JACOB'S OATH by Martin Fletcher


Email this review


A Holocaust survivor must choose between keeping the woman he loves and seeking revenge against the camp guard who beat his younger brother to death.

After the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, survivor Jacob Klein joins the flow of refugees streaming across Europe on foot. His destination is Heidelberg, his hometown, but more importantly, it’s the hometown of Hans Seeler, a sadistic SS guard who tormented Jacob's younger brother, Maxie, in the camp. As Maxie lay dying as a result of a particularly brutal beating dished out by Seeler, Jacob promised to avenge his death by killing Seeler. After arriving in Heidelberg, Jacob starts trading on the black market to make ends meet. One evening, he returns to his room to find a woman, Sarah Kaufman, sitting on his bed. She’d been given Jacob’s address by the mayor’s office, he being the only other Jew in town. Sarah had spent the war in hiding in Berlin but had returned to Heidelberg to keep a promise to meet her lover, who’d disappeared one night after going out to find food. As time passes, it becomes increasingly clear that Sarah's lover won't be returning, and she and Jacob fall in love. Jacob realizes that if he keeps his promise to his brother, he will likely be separated from Sarah, which significantly complicates his planned revenge. With an emotionally agile tone, Fletcher (Walking Israel, 2010, etc.) captures the chaos and desperation that followed the end of World War II in Europe. While some of the characters feel hollow, Fletcher does a particularly good job of bringing the titular character to life, imbuing him with a dark side brought to the fore by the horrors he's experienced.

An expressive and generally well-told story of love and hatred, revenge and recovery.

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-250-02761-0
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2013


FictionPROMISED LAND by Martin Fletcher
by Martin Fletcher
FictionTHE WAR REPORTER by Martin Fletcher
by Martin Fletcher
FictionTHE LIST by Martin Fletcher
by Martin Fletcher


FictionSKELETONS AT THE FEAST by Chris Bohjalian
by Chris Bohjalian
FictionTHE WAR REPORTER by Martin Fletcher
by Martin Fletcher
NonfictionNIGHT by Elie Wiesel
by Elie Wiesel