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A man arrives at Larkwood Monastery claiming sanctuary. Edward Schwermann is accused of Nazi war crimes: the chances are he's stained with blood, but politics demand that Larkwood shelter him. And Schwermann has intimated that the Church offered him sanctuary once before, during the war. It is this potentially embarrassing claim which brings Father Anselm onto centre stage. Once a lawyer, Anselm is sanctioned to make discreet enquiries in Rome, but as he edges towards the truth behind Schwermann's crimes, his renewed contact with the outside world threatens to overwhelm his fragile spiritual identity. For Agnes Embleton, seeing Schwermann's face on the television has brought back a flood of memories: of Paris, of The Round Table, a group of idealistic students who tried to save thousands of Jewish children from deportation, of the Frenchman who betrayed them and of Schwermann, the German officer who sent the children to their deaths. But what Agnes doesn't know and Anselm discovers is the personal investment Schwermann had in The Round Table, the silent bargains made by its members and the true extent of Schwermann's final treachery.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780316861625
ISBN-10: 0316861626
Format: Paperback
(234mm x 153mm x mm)
Pages: 384
Imprint: Little, Brown & Company
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Publish Date: 27-Feb-2003
Country of Publication: United States

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » This intelligent debut from William Brodrick is inspired by his own experience first as a monk and then a barrister, and also from his mother's journals, wartime experiences and illness. The plot line is not easily distilled. In essence, this is the story of a war criminal being brought to retribution, and a group he hunted down and tried to destroy - a ring smuggling Jewish children out of wartime Paris - discovering the truth about him, themselves and each other. However a summary cannot do justice to the intricacies of this novel: an incredible number of twists take the reader to unexpected conclusions. An interesting cast of characters is woven together in a tale that ranges from wartime Paris to modern-day London and Rome, from the peace of a Suffolk priory to the high politics of the Vatican, from the Resistance to the law courts. The characters are finely drawn: particularly those of the heroine Agnes and Father Anselm, which are doubtless the most autobiographical. Epic might be too grand a word to describe this hefty volume, but big and powerful it certainly is. Though it deals with big issues and the horror of Auschwitz, it avoids being depressing or weighed down. With four parts and four prologues, at least eight major characters, two time frames and some hundred pages of scene setting alone, it does requires some investment by the reader. What we think is the denouement simply leads to more denouements, and if a criticism were to be levelled it would be that this unravelling of threads is too long. This is not a light beach read. But the effort is worthwhile. It's a thriller with intellect, a sensitive treatment of war crimes trials, and something of a love story to boot. (Kirkus UK)


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Author Biography - William Brodrick

In a career change that mirrors Father Anselm's, Bill Brodrick was a Benedictine monk before leaving the order to become a practising barrister. This is his first novel and Agnes's story is loosely based on a journal written by his mother.

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