ONCE WE WERE BROTHERS by Ronald H. Balson

ONCE WE WERE BROTHERS

KIRKUS REVIEW

An elderly Holocaust survivor accuses Chicago’s most prominent philanthropist of crimes against humanity in Chicago attorney Balson's novel, originally self-published.

An opera gala, attended by the pillars of Chicago society, is disrupted when octogenarian Ben Solomon holds a Luger to the head of Elliot Rosenzweig, a wealthy insurance magnate known for his civic works and beneficence. After Elliot magnanimously drops charges—the Luger was not loaded—Benjamin goes free, but he is determined to press the charge he made at the soiree: Elliot is not a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz who immigrated penniless to the United States after the war, but Otto Piatek, a vicious Nazi who used the Solomon family’s wealth as his stake in the U.S. Seeking out Catherine Lockhart, a junior associate at a leading law firm, Ben confesses to her an equally shocking allegation: Otto grew up with the Solomons, who raised him as their own son after his drunken Polish father and his ambitious German mother abandoned him. After the German invasion of Poland, Ben’s own father convinced Otto to join the Nazis in hopes that his influence could save his foster family. In a series of meetings, Benjamin gradually persuades Catherine to take his case pro bono—at the cost of her job. For much of this book, the author employs the awkward device of having Benjamin relate his World War II experiences verbatim to Catherine. However, suspense mounts as he reveals each stage in his family’s destruction. 

In spite of the problematic narrative structure and some clunky prose, readers will be riveted by this novel’s central question: Will justice long delayed be denied?

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-250-04639-0
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2013




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