Everyone seems to be haunted by the past in this competently written but overly schematic thriller. In a Boston doctor's office, Greta Wahljak stares at an old man named Schiller and recognizes him as Friedrich Schillinghausen, the last man still alive out of 10 Nazi officials who were photographed in 1943 at the Theresienstadt concentration camp. She approaches the U.S. Attorney's office, unaware that assistant U.S. Attorney David Keegan is dating Schiller's daughter, Diane. Moreover, Keegan has his own mystery to unravel: the events surrounding the car crash in 1954 that killed his mother and spared his abusive policeman father. The demands of advancing two parallel plot lines force Kenney (The Son of John Devlin) to shortchange each of them, and the result is two plots that keep hitting melodramatic high points instead of one story told in dramatic depth. Credibility vanishes when Theo Dunbar, Keegan's rival at the U.S. Attorney's office, feeds the Schiller story to the Globe and then blames the leaks on Keegan, a falsehood that their boss doesn't question. Readers will recognize the implausibility of the situation; after recusing himself from the Schiller case, why would Keegan leak stories to the press that would damage the father of the woman he loves? Retroactive evidence indicates that the boss was just playing along in order to sting Dunbar in the act, but the annoying gap between real-life common sense and narrative contrivance remains. In the end, like a TV movie that flirts with originality and finally descends into predictability, Kenney reveals the hidden and smoothes over the disturbing, neglecting his characters for the requirements of his overelaborate double plot.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Kenney, author of the critically acclaimed Son of John Devlin (1998), examines the stranglehold of the past upon the present in this moving suspense story. An elderly Polish woman, a death-camp survivor now living in Boston, looks across the cardiac care unit at Mass General and sees a figure from her past, an aged but still recognizable Nazi officer. She has held his image close to her over the years, in a photo of 10 Nazi officials taken at the camp. He is the last surviving man from that photo. The U.S. attorney's office investigation delivers shock after shock, both to the elderly woman's family (her son discovers that his girlfriend is the Nazi's daughter) and to the Nazi officer's family as well (everyone discovers that the Nazi is married to a woman active in the National Jewish Council). The rush to judgment is tempered by doubts about the Nazi's role in the death camp, and the story is complicated by the tension between the desire for vengeance and the need for mercy. Spellbinding. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.