THE SHADOW MAN by John Katzenbach


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 Brandish the Holocaust in front of a formula novelist, and the ink flows like blood--as it does in this overextended thriller about an unrepentant Nazi loose among Miami Beach's Jewish community. Fifty years after surviving the war, Sophie Millstein glimpses a face she's seen only in nightmares since then--the Schattenmann, the notorious ``Jew-catcher'' of Berlin--and implores her neighbor, retired Miami Homicide dick Simon Winter, for help, citing the suspicious suicide of her friend Herman Stein shortly after he saw the same unforgettable face. Winter promises to get to the bottom of her fears...and identifies her body the next morning. Black police detective Walter Robinson and Assistant State Attorney Esperanza Martinez join forces in an effort to track down the Shadow Man, but the suspect who was seen fleeing the scene--thieving addict Leroy (Hightops) Jefferson- -obviously wasn't the man whose face terrified Sophie Millstein, though his public defender insists he's a witness who can help a police artist sketch that face in return for the right deal. Robinson and Martinez squirm and foam, but they're obviously going to have to let the man walk; and the very night he's released, he gets a chance to compare the Identikit facial composite to its original. With Jefferson's death, the last lead is gone--unless Martinez can trace the Shadow Man through the Simon Wiesenthal Center, unless Winter can bait a trap, unless Robinson can be on hand for the showdown. But readers hooked by Katzenbach's reputation for fast-moving pulp (Just Cause, 1992, etc.) might just as well be playing solitaire while they're waiting for the conscientious, uninspired author to choreograph a finale that'll allow each of the heroes to contribute what he or she does best. The Holocaust supplies high seriousness, an inflated sense of menace, some factual digressions, and the length that will make some readers take this quick, juiceless thriller seriously. (First printing of 75,000; Book-of-the-Month Club alternate)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-345-38629-9
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1995


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