The Accomplice by Joseph Kanon
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
My Rating: 4/5 stars
It’s 17 years after the end of World War II in Germany, and the hunt for Nazis is nowhere near finished—at least, not for Auschwitz survivor Max Weill. But on the brink of his biggest catch—Otto Schramm, a doctor at Auschwitz believed to be dead—Max passes away, leaving the rest of the hunt to his nephew, Aaron Wiley. As Aaron reluctantly takes over the reigns of his uncle’s lifetime work, he finds himself thrust into a jungle as dangerous as it is alluring. Finding Otto Schramm is one thing, but capturing him is another. Chasing Schramm to Argentina, Aaron uncovers a helpful accomplice: Schramm’s beautiful daughter, Hannah. However, as the hunt becomes more complicated and Hannah remains unaware of Aaron’s true intentions, it becomes clear to him that Hannah may be the perfect accomplice—but to whom?
In my opinion, books dealing with the Holocaust and its aftermath are very risky. It is so easy to make these texts two-dimensional with characters that fall flat into one of two categories: the monster or the victim. However, I think Kanon toed the line between these two brilliantly, capturing the human condition in a surprising way.
The readers meet Otto, the Nazi doctor, nearly two decades after the war ends. However, Kanon does not let us forget the atrocities he committed and the behavior he was complicit in. I found this to be very important, because the horrendous tragedies of World War II must never be forgotten. I believe it is this two-decade time gap that allows Kanon to bring another interesting layer into the story.
I found Schramm to be a very complex villain because we are able to see him 17 years later, as an old man, and, moreover, because we learn so much about him through the eyes of his daughter. This tactic allows for a glimmer of humanity to weave in and out of the tapestry of Schramm’s character, adding depth to his being without erasing the monstrosities of his past.
My only qualm with the book was merely technical and purely personal: a lack of dialogue tags. While there are some, I found it difficult to follow some very fast-paced scenes in the story without a substantial amount of dialogue tags.
Overall, Kanon brought the perfect combination of action, mystery, and humanity to the pages of The Accomplice. I would definitely suggest this book for high school level readers or above as there are some delicate subjects and scenes within the book.
Thank you to the publisher and Changing Hands for my ARC in
exchange for an honest and unbiased review.