Gabriel travels to Vienna to investigate the events surrounding the bombing of Lavon’s office. He finds in the hospital an old man named Max Klein who believes he is the reason why Lavon has been attacked. Max Klein tells Gabriel the story of his survival of the Holocaust during which he met a SS man named Erich Radek who he has recently encountered after sixty years, a man then responsible for many deaths and for burying evidence of the genocide who is now an accomplished and respected businessman living under another name.
As Gabriel digs deeper, he finds a survival account from an unlikely source, and suddenly the Radek affair becomes more troublingly personal.
I really liked this book. The fourth in the Gabriel Allon series, and the third novel dealing with the Holocaust theme, A Death in Vienna is a heart pounding adrenaline ride and the best novel among the first four books in the series. This book is part exposé and overall a terrifying account of the horrors experienced by Jews during the Holocaust and the guilt and the sense of abandonment of the survivors who in many cases didn’t know how to keep on living (like Gabriel’s mother). For others, like Shamron and the PM, bringing down the culprits to justice became their reason for being.
A Death in Vienna relates how many Holocaust survivors stopped believing in God altogether because they felt He had abandoned them. Although in A Death in Vienna Radek is a symbolic character, his bringing to justice meant that neither the dead nor the survivors’ suffering had been forgotten.