Schreiber’s Secret: Roger Radford
The atrocities described in this gripping thriller are real, and the Holocaust did indeed happen. As Herschel Soferman and Oskar Springer meet in the Theresienstadt transit camp near Prague, they forge a friendship for survival. The conditions are deplorable, the food inedible and the final outcome brutal. World War II brought us Hitler, whose reign lasted too long and whose brainwashing over the German people caused shock waves throughout the world. Many turned a blind eye to what so many endured. Hans Schreiber was a sadist. SS officers were known to do horrific things to those they held captive within the walls of these unkempt camps. You are about to enter the war along with those that fought for survival and see first-hand what they endured, as author Roger Radford vividly describes and depicts the terrors and horrors the Nazis inflicted on so many. Inhumane treatment and despicable actions cause the reader to want to seek more than just simple revenge on this monster.
Defining what happened and vividly explaining what those that survived endured pales in comparison to the actual events. The graphic descriptions brilliantly depicted within the pages of this novel take readers inside the arenas where men were pitted against men and the final outcome was death. Standing aloof and enjoying the spectacle was Hans Schreiber. The word monster seems too tame for the man. The SS men under his direction stand by and watch as this sadist, guided by his sick mind, orchestrates the events.
Mark Edwards is a crime reporter for the London Evening Standard and receives an anonymous phone call that rocks his world. One man claims to have information that would set the record straight, but first he has to be sure that Schreiber no longer poses a threat to him or anyone else.
Theresienstadt is where it took place, but moving to London in 1995, we learn that hate is still a powerful tool, and the end result is two murders in the eastern suburbs of the capital. A cab driver hopes his final fare will take him in the direction of his home and provide a hefty sum. Thinking that he might have a lucky night, what transpires will have the police searching for answers to the past. Two brutal murders and both bodies mutilated in the same way. The similarities are clear, the evidence is not hidden and the road points to one man. Could this be a serial killer or are we looking at a re-enactment of the means or method of what one man did to dead prisoners during the Holocaust? As Mark Edwards takes on the case, he enlists the help of Danielle Green, a Jewish colleague with whom he has ignited a romantic relationship. The pair soon learn that not everything is what it seems; illusions are often created and the link to it all is someone with the initials HS. But which one of the characters with those initials HS do they stand for? The killer leaves two notes, refers to these initials, and leaves his well known trademark. Henry Sonntag was an inmate of Theresienstadt and has decided that his story needs to be told. Sonntag agrees to be interviewed by Danielle Green. We hear his voice as he takes allows readers to envision the tortures he endured.
The author flashes back many times, and we learn more about Herschel Soferman when Schreiber uses him as his favorite. In this particular case the definition takes on a whole new meaning.
Within this novel, the author reminds readers that not everyone believed that the Holocaust really happened or that there were many war criminals that needed to pay for their crimes. We hear the voice of the Rt. Hon. Douglas Hurd, CBE. MP, Secretary of State for the Home Office in London, as an inquiry into war crimes ensues, and a law that they want passed is in question. In chapter four, we enter the House of Commons, hearing the voices of the Speaker and Hurd as the final decision is brought to light. Arguments are heard, the evidence presented and the decision made. War crimes are defined and voices are raised. The final outcome you will have to read and learn for yourself.
A man is arrested for the murders of a cab driver and a wealthy businessman. An anonymous caller and source is revealed, linking both to the Small Fortress at Theresienstadt. Identification is made and the trial will eventually take place. Why does Danielle think this man is innocent? In the course of their investigation, Mark and Danielle learn more about the war. Mark enlists the help of a German professor on sabbatical in London. Danielle questions the professor and the discussion gets heated. The research and the history included in this novel is quite extensive, and the many ways German SS officers made their way to Britain after the war is revealed.
When you hear the voice of one survivor tell his story and the graphic depiction of the events he endured in the Small Fortress, you, the reader, must decide for yourself whether the man charged is guilty of Nazi War Crimes, and whether the 1991 law that states War Criminals can be tried in Britain should be employed and upheld. It is an interview so powerful and so graphic that you will read it more than once to make sure you get the full impact of what is being said. Danielle visits the defendant in jail, a harsh reality is revealed, a twist to the plot that will keep readers wondering just who is guilty and who has created their own veil of lies and deceit. A trip to Germany and Israel will hopefully help Mark and Danielle learn the truth about Hans Schreiber. Who is the defendant? Who is the man that claims to be Herschel Soferman? A trial so filled with hate and anger and so powerful that readers will learn just what Hans Schreiber has been hiding all these years. The setting is the Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey, and the players are in place as reporter Mark Edwards and feature writer Danielle Green take a leap of faith in the hope of discovering the truth.
Two men recount their experiences in the Small Fortress, but which one is telling the truth? When Mark hires a private detective to learn more about Sonntag, the end result will bring to light that someone is out there and wants to prevent the truth from coming out. A courtroom scene becomes utterly compelling as two lawyers will stop at nothing to win! Just who is the real Hans Schreiber, and who is the imposter?
When the final scene in court is presented, readers will be left with unanswered questions. As Mark and Danielle search for the truth, they question the one man who just might be able to give them the answers? What was Schreiber’s Secret? What happens when you hear the harsh words that one man leaves for everyone to ponder? Author Roger Radford creates an ending that will leave readers wanting more. Powerful, historically correct, creatively written and told in many voices as we hear two men who claimed to have been there. Which one reveled in the pain of others? Which one tortured so many defenseless victims? Whose story is the truth? Will Danielle and Mark find the answers they are looking for? Is there more to tell?
A first-rate novel filled with twists, turns and a surprise ending the readers will never expect. Hans Schreiber: A secret so devastating that when revealed many lives will never be the same. An outstanding novel that reminds readers that the Holocaust really happened and we must never forget.
Fran Lewis: reviewer