A Death in Vienna, Daniel Silva, G P Putnam's Sons, 2004, 399 pp
I read the fourth book of Silva's Gabriel Allon series during Yom HaShoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day. It just worked out that way but was appropriate because while investigating the death of an old friend in Vienna, Gabriel uncovers the existence of a Nazi war criminal who had escaped justice for more than half a century.
Of course the plot is twisty, Allon is called upon to face plenty of danger, and this time he gets the target. In the first three books I learned about how he lost his child and the tragedy of his wife. In this one I learned the tragedy of his mother, a survivor who died in Israel. I had not known there exists in Jersusalem the Yad Vashem Archives, a collection of testimony and memories given by Holocaust survivors.
When Gabriel reads his mother's testimony, he learns his own family history for the first time. He also identifies the man he is after. That leads into the complicated politics of Austria, where Holocaust deniers hold and/or seek power. The parallels with Hungary, read about in Susan Faludi's In the Darkroom, were striking and eerie.
Reading A Death in Vienna brought about some realizations and deeper truths about history. There is not a country on Earth who has not done shameful acts against mankind and those who perpetrated those acts do all they can to deny and obliterate the memories of them.
Yes, I already knew that but now I believe more strongly than ever in the importance of those times and acts being brought to light. While I am fine with justice being done and the correct punishments carried out against those who committed the crimes, what is more important for the mental and spiritual health of mankind in general is that the truth is brought out.
Apparently, despite contradictory evidence, I still believe the world can be a better place. That is why writers write and why I read.
(A Death in Vienna is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)