Michael Simon’s entertaining and fast-paced The Last Jew Standing is the fourth and final novel in a series of thrillers narrated by detective Dan Reles, the gruff, practical, and resilient lieutenant of Austin’s homicide unit. At the outset of the novel, Reles’ domestic and professional life couldn’t be better, but this soon changes when his deadbeat father, Ben Reles, mysteriously arrives in Austin after a twentyyear estrangement. Ben, a sympathetically drawn, low-level gangster, refuses to divulge any information about his sudden reappearance until Sam Zelig, the main villain, comes to town seeking revenge.
The tale spans only a few winter days but is an action-packed account of the narrator’s struggles to avoid the dangerous machinations of Zelig. Simon also excels at interlacing these adventure scenes with softer, melancholic flashbacks, and glimpses of Austin in the wee-morning hours. At the heart of this novel is Dan and Ben’s struggle to re-connect after years apart. And, as the drama unfolds, so do the complexities of this father-son relationship. We are kept at the edge of our seats through car crashes and gunfights, anxious to see if family loyalty can withstand these high stakes situations.