WANTED! by Howard Blum
Kirkus Star


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Recent news stories of WW II Nazi executioners living placid middle-class lives in the US will give momentum to Blum's eerie tale of the hunters and the hunted. Like Hermine Ryan, the Queens housewife recently extradited to West Germany, Tscherim ""Tom"" Soobzokov, Valerian Trifa, Andrija Artukovic, and Boleslavs Maikovski arrived here as displaced persons fleeing the communists. The Immigration and Naturalization Service--whether it knew of their previous identities or not--was, allegedly, more than willing to let them live unmolested. Soobzokov prospered as a Patterson, N.J., Democrat and leader of that town's Circassian community; Trifa became a Bishop of the Rumanian Orthodox Episcopate in Michigan. The men obsessed with tracking and ""unmasking"" them as mass murderers were an equally unlikely bunch. Tony DeVito, an INS official involved in the Ryan case, was a monomaniacal crusader; a Rumanian Jewish dentist pursued Trifa for 32 years; Maikovski's nemesis was a New York City waiter. As they compiled their dossiers on the neighborly, Americanized East Europeans, these men--DeVito most especially--succumbed to paranoia. Or did they? INS files mysteriously vanished; mounds of evidence forwarded to that bureau were received with indifference if not hostility; eyewitness testimony from Jewish survivors was deemed insufficient for government action. DeVito and others grew certain that ""the fix"" was in, that an ""Odessa organization has infiltrated the inner reaches of our government."" Does author Blum believe this? He chooses not to say; like a good novelist he writes from inside the tormented heads of DeVito, dentist Charlie Kremer, and the rest. Suspense runs high as Blum drops frightful bits of circumstantial evidence without ever sticking his own neck out. Blum also notes that many of those ""willing to forget"" are Jews. As this stands it's an engrossing detective drama with the ""coverup"" left moot and the moral issues shelved. But one thing is sure--you'll be hearing more about these cases.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Quadrangle/New York Times