THE ACCOMPLICE by Joseph Kanon

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During the Second World War, Adolf Hitler found that he could rally the German army as well as the people by selecting scapegoats to blame for the poor economic conditions the country found itself in. He was able to sell the country on the need to go to war and at the same time began the persecution of the groups that were selected as scapegoats. Among these were Jews and Gypsies. Hitler began the mass extermination of his scapegoats by sending them to concentration camps where many were killed in gas ovens as one means of destroying those groups. Both guards and supervisory personnel easily fell into the positions of both condoning the killing as well as rationalizing their own part in the murders by stating that they acted under orders from above.

The Accomplice is a hard-hitting novel telling the story of the finding of one of the medical doctors that had tortured men, women, and children to death in the name of approved experiments.  Dr Otto Schramm was head of “experiments” at the Auschwitz camp in Poland and managed to elude capture when the war ended.  Seventeen years after the war ended it was thought that Schramm had been killed in an auto accident and searches for him ended. But one of the foremost Nazi hunters, Max Weill, sees him walking on the streets of Hamburg and wants to go after him. Unfortunately Max is a sick man and possibly due to the excitement of the sighting suffers a heart attack and passes away. But not before he charges Aaron Wiley his nephew that is visiting from the US to continue the search. Aaron is an employee of the CIA but basically one working strictly at a desk. Knowing that Max’s wife, Aaron’s aunt was killed by Schramm he takes some vacation from the CIA and begins to chase him.

The main section of the novel is taken up with the chase.  Schramm had fled to Argentina and Aaron goes to Buenos Aires to look for him.  A most interesting situation develops when Schramm’s daughter is found, and Aaron meets her to obtain information about her father.

The two meet, and a love affair develops with the obvious question can Aaron take her father prisoner and bring him to justice to stand trial for his wartime crimes in the face of his feelings for his daughter?

The chase after Schramm and the very conflicting emotions of the people involved provide an excellent read pulling the readers into the plot with the changing feelings of the period shortly after WWII. This is not a story that can easily be forgotten with the emotions generated by the novel staying fresh for quite a while.

11/19 Paul Lane

THE ACCOMPLICE by Joseph Kanon. Atria Books (November 5, 2019). ISBN 978-1501121425. 336p.

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