© 2005 All Rights Reserved Readers & Writers Ink Reviews
THE LONGEST NIGHT
By Gregg Keizer
Leonard "Mouse" Weiss is a hit man for Jewish crime boss Meyer Lansky, not some sort of hero or crusader or do-gooder. However, when a hit goes bad, Lansky wants Mouse out of town. As it happens, there's an excellent opportunity for Mouse to disappear. It's 1943 and an underground resistance movement in Europe needs money and muscle to intercept a train carrying Dutch Jews to their deaths at one of the Eastern German camps. Lansky has the money and decides Mouse can provide the muscle.
It doesn't take long for Mouse to discover that Hitler's Europe is a far cry from the streets of Brooklyn and everything he's known all his life. He's not thrilled with his assignment and the zealous German Jew, who's assigned as his partner in New York, is more hindrance than help, given his tendency to shoot first and think later.
Mouse starts in England, where he meets the four Dutch Jews who have put together the plan. Only then does he discover the origin of the scheme is their determination to rescue one woman. Despite his misgivings, Mouse does his best to follow Lansky's orders and wishes, trying to think like his boss would, an almost impossible task, given Mouse's stilted logic. In short order, he's cross-wise with Lansky's cockney counterpart, from whom he has to acquire a plane to Holland and an arsenal for the five-man team assigned to overthrow the well-oiled plans of the Germans.
Unbeknownst to any of the rescuers is the traitor among the resistance movement, who advises the Germans of their planned arrival. The small group from England barely survives their landing outside of Amsterdam, losing one of the men to the German gestapo. The timetable is short and the risks increase as Mouse becomes more certain someone who is "helping" them is feeding information to the German security and Jewish roundup officials. The only person he can trust, the only one who seems to share his grit, determination and suspicions is Reka, a Dutch Jew who escaped transport to the camps with her parents. With each day that passes, the risks increase and the chance of success seems to diminish.
Despite the odds and the traitor's continued interference, Mouse gains control of the train, carrying a thousand Dutch Jews, and reroutes it to the coast, where fishing boats are to transport the refugees to England, but the Germans are only moments and miles behind them. At the end of the line, only half the promised boats are waiting. The Germans arrive as the loading begins. Mouse, who has discovered a loyalty, strength, love and compassion he's never before known, is forced to make a decision he'll have to live with for the rest of his life.
THE LONGEST NIGHT is a fast-paced action novel of suspense, suspicion and betrayal during the earlier days of World War II, a story that takes the reader deep into the lives of both Dutch Jews and those in the resistance movement. It provides a terrifying, realistic look at the German attitude and determination to exterminate any who are not of their perceived acceptance. Keizer has woven a tale of intrigue around a very real man and an equally real situation, where life demands decisions no one willingly makes.
-- Reviewed by DanaRae Pomeroy
Note: If using a quote from this or any Readers and Writers Ink Review, we ask that Books at ForumsAmerica.com or CompuServe Books Forum be attributed for the quotation. Please address any questions to Lynne Perednia, Review Coordinator. Reviews are linked from the CompuServe Books Forum and are archived at the ForumsAmerica Books Forum.