About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Friday, February 18, 2022

The Traitors of Camp 133 by Wayne Arthurson

(4. - 1119.) The Traitors of Camp 133 by Wayne Arthurson - 

"Mueller looked to be kneeling in the corner, praying. But the truth was his knees were inches off the floor. A rope hung from a coat hook and was wrapped around his neck."

In June of 1944 Captain Mueller with 12,000 other German soldiers, sailors, airmen, submariners, SS and legionnaires are in a prison camp near Lethbridge, Alberta. In the manner of bureaucracies everywhere the guards let the prisoners mainly administer themselves making it “essentially a German military camp”.

Sergeant August Neumann, Head of Civil Security, and his assistant, Corporal Klaus Aachen, find Mueller while doing rounds. Neumann is sure it is murder not suicide.

Mueller was unpopular with some prisoners and called “the Bolshevik” not from his political views but because:

He was more interested in helping the younger and less-educated soldiers improve themselve so they could find better positions when the conflict ends.

With multiple rows of barbed wire surrounding the camp the killer was either a prisoner or a guard. None of the prisoners think it was a guard.

Neumann, 6 ½ feet tall and strongly built, is a commanding presence. He is respected, even feared, because he is “no ordinary sergeant”.

There are power struggles within the camp. Was Mueller caught up in camp politics or too outspoken about the war or was he killed because of a personal conflict?

Traitors are not just despised. They are eliminated.

Though many of the prisoners are physically softened by prison camp life virtually all the prisoners are very capable killers.

Neumann is a shrewd investigator skillled at reading psyches, well aware of the camp’s internal tensions, ready to push the righteous Nazis and willing to back off when appropriate.

Neumann and Aachen have the special bond that comes from combat in the same unit. They were captured in North Africa.

They are dogged in their search for a killer many in camp would be content never be found.

With little back story for Neumann and Aachen there is an air of mystery about them. For Neumann we learn little of his life before the war beyond that he was a soldier in WW I and was a “village policeman”. I would have preferred more on the lives of Neumann and Aachen. It would have helped me to understand their motivations and decisions.

The plot is a classic mystery in the sense of a closed setting with all the suspects unable to leave.

It is a challenge to have the characters doing enough to be interesting. Arthurson does well in maintaining interest in a setting where boredom is rampant for there is a lot of time with little to do. Camp 133 is an interesting book. I am glad to have read it.


  1. That's a really interesting context for a story, Bill. Like you, I'd want to know a little more about those characters; I think that background knowledge keeps the interest level in the story that much higher. One of the things that struck me most as I read your post was the social structure of the camp. That in itself is really interesting.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. There were very clear demarcations between the different military units. The divisions within were striking.

  2. Very unusual and interesting setting. I am intrigued.

    1. Marina Sofia: Thanks for the comment. The setting catches attention. I have a second book set in the camp to read as well.