A highly promising, extraordinarily intelligent debut thriller about war, stolen identity and the nature of betrayal.
William Brodrick was in religious life but left before his final vows. He worked with homeless people and then became a barrister. This is his first novel and Agnes's story is loosely based on a journal written by his mother.
Broderick's masterful first novel is characterized by the publisher as a "literary thriller," as though it needed that label to attract and galvanize buyers. But the book defies genre pigeonholing; it is simply storytelling at its finest. Amid the rush and tumble of a stirring plot, the author's eloquent prose brings power to the tangled and tragic history on which the story is based. After decades in hiding, Eduard Schwermann, a suspected Nazi war criminal, claims sanctuary at Larkwood Priory, a modern-day monastery in the English countryside. Ordered to investigate the 50-year-old mystery of Schwermann's crime, Father Anselm, an ex-lawyer turned monk, is soon immersed in the murky history of the Nazi occupation of Paris and the deportation of French Jews to the death camps. He researches the life of a heroic French resistance fighter and attempts to answer questions about treachery, both modern and historical. In a second narrative thread, the aging Agnes Embleton sees a wartime-era picture of Schwermann on television and is cast back to occupied Paris and her role in the Round Table, a group of students who attempted to rescue thousands of Jewish children. Agnes suffers from a degenerative ailment called motor neuron disease and depends on her 25-year-old granddaughter, Lucy, for physical assistance. Lucy has also become a repository of the aging woman's memories. Nothing is as it seems, and the truth is revealed layer by layer as the past gives up its secrets to the persistent Father Anselm and the devoted Lucy. Even in the smallest moments, Broderick's writing is beautiful: "They walked on, the light swiftly thinning, the mad swooping of distant birds suddenly ended, leaving the sky bare, unscored." The complex nature of the plot demands concentration, but the effort pays off handsomely as one is swept into this heartrending story. (July 14) Forecast: A natural handsell to fans of both thrillers and plot-driven literary fiction, Broderick's novel may also benefit from his intriguing life story: he was an Augustinian friar before leaving the order to become a lawyer, and the events of the novel are loosely based on the experiences of his mother during the war. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
'This is a remarkable novel, and puts Brodrick in the frame for prize-winning' - John Dugdale, SUNDAY TIMES 'It is a wonderful book, it has a timeless quality and really should go on to become a classic. It reminds me of the early works of John le Carre, but captures much more accurately the internal workings of ordinary people, and shows how, just by bumping into each other, they can be utterly transformed, and go on to extraordinarily brave and cowardly acts. It pointed out so well how the threads of those small day by day choices made by us, or for us, become intertwined and grow so quickly into the great net that, with hindsight, we call history...one of the most interesting writers I have come across in a long time' Paul Britton, author of THE JIGSAW MAN 'The Sixth Lamentation is a meticulously-plotted, cat's cradle of a mystery with the interwoven stories pulled as taut as a piano-wire. The setting of Paris during the war is invoked to chilling effect. William Brodrick has written the first of what I hope will be a series of especially literate thrillers' Martha Grimes 'It's indeed rare to find such a masterful blending of sharp suspense and literary resonance as we see in THE SIXTH LAMENTATION. Brodrick has produced a truly compelling novel' Jeffery Deaver, author of THE VANISHED MAN and THE STONE MONKEY 'Absorbing and unusually accomplished...The plot has a complexity worthy of le Carre at his best, ingeniously worked out, and surprising... It has the merits of a work of art, whatever its provenance: a remarkable first novel' Allan Massie, SCOTSMAN 'The characters are multi-layered and compelling, the storyline is gripping, the facts have a ring of truth to them, and more importantly, the book will remain with you after the reading is completed' HISTORICAL NOVELS REVIEW 'William Brodrick has written a tense, sophisticated, wholly convincing novel of suspense. This is a remarkable debut' Michael Holroyd 'Brodrick writes well about age and memory, buried pasts and the consequences of opening them up.' GUARDIAN 'The backdrop of the priory is evoked with exceptional skill and insight. He is also a dab hand at plotting. The twists and turns of this tale of betrayal and retribution are labyrinthine and never allow you to dedicate anything less than total attention to the detail...As a page-turner, THE SIXTH LAMENTATION is a triumph.' INDEPENDENT MAGAZINE 'William Brodrick's highly intelligent first novel is an original exploration of law, theology and the past.' SUNDAY TELEGRAPH 'He writes with a wisdom and poignancy that makes this a compelling novel.' SUNDAY HERALD 'This is a remarkable and deep novel, with several interweaving themes and a cast of utterly convincing characters... a haunting and compelling story which lingers in the mind long after the last page had been turned. This enthralled reader went back to the beginning to read it again.' OLDIE 'Brodrick keeps the story going at a cracking pace, flitting back and forth between its various elements, characters and eras with timing so expert that the reader is compelled to keep turning the pages... Borderick's potential as a storyteller makes his next novel something to look forward to.' TIME OUT 'Subtle, diffuse, morally convoluted and impossible to put aside, this is a wonderful thriller.' DAILY TELEGRAPH 'A tightly plotted story fo love, betrayal, conscience- and the long shadows left by war.' IRISH INDEPENDENT
Broderick's engrossing first novel is a detailed and compelling mystery about how the past can shape the future. Father Anselm, a barrister-turned-monk, is deeply troubled when a former SS officer claims sanctuary at Larkwood Priory, generating considerable unwelcome publicity. Fifty years earlier, Edward Schwermann and a French collaborator had brutally destroyed a group formed to save Jewish children, then avoided arrest at the end of World War II when a Catholic monastery in France gave them fake identities so that they could escape and hide in Britain. Even as Schwermann is put on trial for war crimes, a dying Agnes Aubret begins to write down her experiences in occupied France and Auschwitz for her granddaughter, whose efforts to understand Agnes's past lead her directly to Schwermann's trial. At the same time, Father Anselm's superior sends him to the Vatican, where he is charged with the task of determining the Church's role in facilitating Schwermann's escape. In a reverse of his hero's path, Broderick was a friar before becoming a barrister, and he has based his story on the wartime experiences of his own mother. Patrons will enjoy reading the historical fiction mixed with mystery and courtroom drama. Sure to be a popular addition to most public libraries' fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/03.]-Angela Graven, Christie's Lib., New York Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.