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The Last Man Paperback – January 3, 1995

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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"The Short Drop" by Matthew FitzSimmons
Meet the assassin The Washington Post calls "a doozy of a sociopath" in this debut thriller from Matthew FitzSimmons. Available on Kindle and in paperback.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.

From Booklist

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.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (January 3, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345482344
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345482341
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,396,522 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on August 31, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book touches on many themes, but most forcefully delivers a story about forgiveness that brought tears to my eyes.
The Nazi who loved a Jew, and did everything imaginable to save her from a concentration camp; the abandoned and emotionally abused boy who did everything imaginable to discover the hidden truth of his mother's death; and that same boy's own heroism in forgiving his father's responsibility for the mother's death. The same theme resonates in the resolution of revelations that come from the discovery of the truth of his lover's family's past and their involvement with the Nazi Reich.
The tension I felt between abhoring the Nazi in hiding, and then being moved by discovering his heroism was what really made this book for me. It is so hard, as a Jew, to look beyond the general pure hatred that word Nazi brings forth. It is hard to forgive any of them, despite what we know about their situation. My own grandfather was murdered in a Camp and yet, I found it satisfying to find a character that I could sympathize with despite his allegiances. And the main character in this book was very appealing too.
This book, although it brought tears to my eyes, made me feel good as well, because it gave me hope that there is the possibility of acceptance and closure from even the most atrocious circumstances.
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By A Customer on August 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In 1942, ten men wearing SS uniforms attend a dinner party at the Thereslenstadt Camp in Czechoslovakia. Inmate Gerta Wahljek is ordered to take a picture of the event and make a copy for each man to keep as a memento of the evening. Gerta retains one picture for herself and when the war ends she takes the photograph with her to America.
Over the next five decades, Gerta tracks down nine of the participants with only Friedrich Schillinghaussen remaining unaccounted for during the entire time until now. She thinks she has located Friedrich in the cardiac gerontology unit of a Boston hospital. She tells her son of her discovery and he uses his political clout to launch an investigation into the life of Freddy Schiller, a person with no documented past and currently married to a Jewish rights activist. Will the inquiries prove Gerta correct and substantiate the activities of a man in love during wartime or will it turn into a witch-hunt of an elderly man?
THE LAST MAN is a fascinating story that demonstrates that morality is often jello-like and difficult to grasp, making it impossible to serve as judge and jury when choices are done under horrific circumstances. No one is evil, but everyone is flawed and doing what they can to survive as human beings during wartime. The climax is a believable shocker as Charles Kearney makes what seemingly is impossible possible.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the first book I have read in this kind of genre...something different from what I usually read...anyway, I found this story to be very heartwarming and I found myself to actually care about the characters in the book. If you are looking for something that is different from the usual "thriller", pick up this book, this is one that you may learn something from....
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By A Customer on August 27, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the first review I have written but this is one of the best books I have ever read. It combines history with fiction beautifully. Anyone interested in learning more about the horrible Nazi death camps will find this book fascinating
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