The Last Jew Standing

Michael Simon
  • Review
By – December 12, 2011

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. 

Phil Sandick is a grad­u­ate of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin-Madi­son. He has taught cours­es in lit­er­a­ture, com­po­si­tion, and cre­ative writ­ing since 2006. Phil is cur­rent­ly study­ing rhetoric and com­po­si­tion at the Uni­ver­si­ty of North Car­oli­na-Chapel Hill.

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