Jan Goldberg a.k.a. Horst Vogel is a Polish Jew who was a resistance fighter against the Nazis. We meet up with him about five years after the end of the war; he is masquerading as a German art specialist trying to separate out the seized war booty from legitimate art holdings. All the while, Jan/Horst keeps an eye out for known stolen works. What most do not know is that he is also an assassin who brings ‘justice’ to Nazis who were instrumental in the party’s purge but have escaped the notice of the war crimes tribunal.
Prodigal Sons opens with our protagonist committing a grisly murder in an alley outside a seedy bar. We do not know who either of the players are and he follows this closely by taking out another Nazi trying to escape to Argentina via Switzerland on a train. The book starts out gritty and promises a story with a high body count. That all changes when Horst has a chance meeting with Greta, a beautiful blond German pianist, as she is staring into a stream looking for a ring she had dropped. Horst is able to retrieve it for her and she repays him by joining him for coffee. This propels our protagonist down the road from a hardened, embittered, assassin to a caring man who wants to settle down and raise a family.
About a third of the way into the story we finally do a flash back and learn about Jan’s past and how he became the man we meet in the beginning of the story.
I found Prodigal Sons to be a very engaging book and I wanted to keep reading it. I thought it was well written but the end just seemed a little too ‘storybook’ perfect in my opinion. I did enjoy the ending and I certainly cannot think of a way to make it better, but it seemed to be missing something. Overall, a good book worth reading, but don’t mistake this for a hard core spy novel. Prodigal Sons is a light love story that addresses the wounds created by war and what it takes for them to heal.
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Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.
This book was provided free of any obligation by Sheldon Greene. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.