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A sequel to the magisterial, best-selling The Book of Abraham (1986), which used fictional speculation to help trace Halter's family history from 70 A.D. to WW II: here, the author takes the mystery behind the 1961 assassination of his cousin Hugo Halter as the center for a chronicle of the far. flung family's contradictory loyalties over the past 30 years. When he was killed outside Jerusalem with his wife Sigrid, a Nazi general's daughter, Hugo was in the process of tracking down all his relatives and recording their names and addresses in a notebook-which becomes the symbol of the family's links with the past and each other. As Hugo's American cousin Sidney, a red-haired doctor, says, ""Hugo's murder has turned all his relatives into detectives trying to find clues that will save the past from oblivion."" But Hugo was mainly a political activist, not a detective--in fact, the crucial question about his death is just whom he was working for when he was killed--and his cousin's quest into the past isn't detective work in any ordinary sense; in Moscow, in Buenos Aires, in Tel Aviv and New York, they honor his memory by fighting for the principles they associate with their forebears--while finding to their dismay that political lines divide them at every turn: Aron and Rachel's son Sasha wants to join the KGB; their daughter Olga takes up with Palestinian terrorist Hidar Assadi; Mordecai's son Arieh marries a Yemenite; Dona Regina's granddaughter Anna Maria becomes an Argentinian provocateur; Hidar learns that Sidney's flight from Europe has been hijacked by his own people. The crisscrossing lines of the plot are the stuff of soap opera, and Arieh's final report on Hugo's death leaves the heart of his mystery intact, but Halter shows handsomely not only how ""all the branches of Judaism confronted each other in my family"" but also--a far rarer achievement--how ""that reassured me.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1990
Publisher: Arcade--dist. by Little, Brown