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by Joseph Kanon
Atria Books, November 2019
328 pages
ISBN: 1501121421

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Joseph Kanon's Nazi-hunting thriller THE ACCOMPLICE begins seventeen years after WW II ended. It is 1962, yet many high-ranking Nazis have not been brought to justice. Aided by church officials and friendly governments, many have started new, protected lives in South America, living under assumed names. Otto Schramm, a doctor whose Nazi past includes perpetrating horrendous so-called medical experiments at Auschwitz, is one of them. Officially, he is dead, killed in an auto accident in Buenos Aires.

In a strange coincidence, Schramm is recognized by Max Weill, a world-renowned Nazi hunter. Max is sitting in a Hamburg café conversing with his nephew Aaron Wiley, a CIA analyst, when Schramm walks by. To the skeptical Aaron, Max explains that he knows Schramm's walk because he followed behind him in Auschwitz, forced to be his helper as this doctor of infamy performed his experiments on the Jewish inmates. Max wants to capture Schramm and bring him to justice. Aaron does not want to become enmeshed in his uncle's obsession, but Max urges him to get involved. When Max has a heart attack and dies a few days later, Aaron realizes he has the need to make Schramm pay for what he did to Max, including ordering the death of Max's son.

Through his research, Aaron learns that Schramm's ex-wife has recently died, which might be why he has taken the chance to return to Germany to attend the funeral. With the help of a German journalist, Aaron flies to Buenos Aires and begins to get close to the high society people who surround Schramm, starting with his beautiful daughter Hanna. He is helped in his search by an Israeli agent as well by the CIA station chief. Aaron wants to bring Schramm back to Germany to stand trial, but each of the other players has a different idea of how Schramm should pay for his crimes.

Aaron is curious about how Hanna can reconcile the idea of someone she loves, her father, with atrocities she knows he has committed. Aaron is also certain that Hanna knows her father is alive and knows his whereabouts. They begin a relationship which cannot be honest on any level, but which plays out in surprising ways for both Aaron and Hanna. False identities are discovered, kidnappings and murders ensue, and deep moral questions confound the characters. In the end, with so many intertwined motives and histories, we may find that the title ACCOMPLICE has a complicated meaning.

§ Anne Corey is a writer, poet, teacher and botanical artist in New York's Hudson Valley.

Reviewed by Anne Corey, November 2019

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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