Five Star, Mar 2004, 25.95, 298 pp.
In 1936 many Europeans flee to America where they hope to make money to bring loved ones over. In New York City, former Polish medical student Nathan Ebanholz left behind his wife and baby in the old country so that he could earn money for their passage. He accepted an orderly job at Willard Parker Hospital where he met Nurse Stella Zweikel. Though he feels guilty, he has sex with Stella, who informs Nathan that her spouse Martin brings over Jews for a fee. Nathan hires him.
Martin learns that anti-Semitic Poles killed his client's wife and daughter. Apparently Stella knew but collected the final fee anyway. When Nathan learns the truth especially that Stella knew, he kills her. He leaves the hospital taking a sick infant with him and heads to his sister Anna in Jersey claiming the child is his. Anna learns the truth about her in-law and niece, Nathan's “child” and her abusive father Topinski and her brother's probable murder of Stella, but decides Rosa (as they call her) is better off with them. A half crazed Martin believes Nathan killed Stella and stole their child; Topinksi seeks his child to inflict more pain on his daughter.
REPENTANCES is an intriguing historical crime thriller that hooks the audience with the insight to the Jewish plight. The events seem like dominoes as hitting one topples the next one and so forth. Though the murder and abduction appears oddly correct reactions for an insane person, making Topinksi so vile allows easy rationalization for the kidnapping. Fans will appreciate this deep look at an era when the American government and charities ignored the plight of immigrants leaving behind family in unsafe conditions.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner