Voic­es of the Dead: A Novel

Peter Leonard
  • Review
By – November 27, 2012

Har­ry Levin rules over a suc­cess­ful scrap yard and eas­i­ly nav­i­gates Detroit’s mean­est streets car­ry­ing his Colt Python for back­up. He’s boiled hard­er than an egg that’s been left on the burn­er until the odor of sul­fur per­me­ates the house. It’s easy to under­stand why. Har­ry is a Holo­caust sur­vivor, one of many who were orphaned at Dachau con­cen­tra­tion camp. He man­aged to escape and even­tu­al­ly made his way to the States, but he seems to be the rein­car­na­tion of Job. He suf­fered the loss of his par­ents, but kept going. His wife died, leav­ing him alone with a young daugh­ter and his mem­o­ries, but he kept going. And now, his adult daugh­ter has been killed when the car of a Ger­man busi­ness­man hit her broad­side on the streets of the nation’s cap­i­tal. To make mat­ters worse, Ernst Hess has diplo­mat­ic immu­ni­ty and won’t be held respon­si­ble for her death. 

Har­ry is now run­ning on grief, fury, and a pas­sion­ate desire for revenge. He returns to Munich for the first time since the Holo­caust with the goal of slay­ing Ernst Hess. While sit­ting at the bar at a Bavar­i­an restau­rant, he meets an Amer­i­can sol­dier, who has been dis­hon­or­ably dis­charged and is prepar­ing to return to the States. The guy is also from Detroit, an African Amer­i­can street kid who joined up when a judge told him that prison was his only oth­er option. The unlike­ly pair accom­plish some seri­ous male bond­ing dur­ing an ugly bar fight with a group of neo-Nazi skin­heads and they join forces. That pret­ty well sets up the sto­ry. More details would give away too much of the plot. 

For those who like noir fic­tion that’s infused with a good dose of testos­terone, this should prove an enjoy­able read. It is occa­sion­al­ly nec­es­sary to sus­pend dis­be­lief as there are a num­ber of coin­ci­dences that push the enve­lope, but the book is well penned and a step above many of the for­mu­la­ic nov­els writ­ten in this genre.

Nao­mi Tropp recent­ly retired after a long career in non­prof­it man­age­ment. She worked on the Ann Katz Fes­ti­val of Books at the Indi­anapo­lis JCC for 9 of its twelve years and direct­ed the fes­ti­val for three of those years.

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