cover image The Little Liar

The Little Liar

Mitch Albom. Harper, $26.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-240665-1

The riveting if rushed latest from Albom (The Stranger in the Lifeboat) explores the legacy of the Holocaust on the Jewish community in Thessaloniki, Greece. In 1943, canny SS officer Udo Graf manipulates 11-year-old Nico into encouraging his neighbors to board a train to be resettled with their loved ones. When Nico sees his parents board the train, he realizes he’s been tricked. He soon learns the train was headed to Auschwitz, and is wracked with guilt. After the war, Nico settles in Los Angeles under another name. In a parallel narrative, Nico’s older brother, Sebastian, who blames Nico for sending their parents to their deaths, is searching for Nico as well as former SS officers. Albom is at his best tracing the brothers’ trajectories after the war, describing how Sebastian comes to marry Nico’s crush, Fannie, and portraying Fannie’s unrequited love for the absent brother. Unfortunately, Albom races through the climactic final act, set in 1983, when Nico plans to return to Thessaloniki for an event commemorating the 40th anniversary of the first Auschwitz transport, and Sebastian, working with a Nazi hunter modeled after Simon Wiesenthal, is hot on Graf’s trail. Still, this adds up to a weighty examination of the Nazis’ lies and their lingering consequences. Agent: David Black, David Black Literary. (Nov.)