Book Review

The Auschwitz Violinist

The Auschwitz Violinist

  • Author: Jonathan Dunsky
  • Genre: Mystery
  • Publication Date: 
  • Publisher: Independently Published
  • Series: Adam Lapid Mysteries #3

Thank you to Jonathan Dunsky for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

CONTENT WARNING: Holocaust imagery, grief, suicide, PTSD, antisemitism, violence, murder

Death isn’t always what it seems. And neither is murder. 

When a former Auschwitz inmate is found dead with his wrists slashed, the police call it suicide, but private investigator Adam Lapid is not so sure. 

Has he stumbled upon the trail of a devious serial killer? One who is targeting Holocaust survivors for some unknown sin?

The Auschwitz Violinist is a page-turning historical mystery novel about madness, murder, and revenge.

Grab this book if you’re interested in murder mysteries, private investigator novels, or historical mysteries.

I’m definitely hooked on this series, and it feels like each book is better than the previous one. Once I start reading, I can’t stop and find myself lying through each book, thinking about it if I have to step away from it, and just wanting to hole up and binge read not just the book, but the whole series.

In this book, Adam happens to run into a fellow Holocaust survivor, who invites him to meet at a cafe. When he goes to the cafe, he discovers that the man is an incredibly talented violinist, and that was how he survived Auschwitz—by playing in the camp orchestra. But after they meet, he finds out that the man apparently went home and committed suicide. Or at least, that’s what the police say. And when a friend of this man hires Adam to find out why, Adam gets on the case.

At the time, very little was actually understood about trauma and what the Holocaust survivors were dealing with. While their bodies were rehabilitated as best they could be, most people in Israel just seemed to think that they were “crazy,” or that something was wrong with them, making them prone to suicide. And while Adam is struggling through his own psychological scars and trauma, it seemed like a lot of his motivation for taking this case and thinking that it might not have been a suicide centered around proving that he himself wasn’t “one of those crazy people from the camps.” 

We get to know a lot more about Adam, and see not just his trauma and how he copes with it, but who he is in depth. This story revealed not just what life in post-independence Israel looked like, but the mindset towards mental health and survivors, and the divide between the European Jews and those who hadn’t been through the Holocaust. There’s a big stigma around seeking mental healthcare, and Adam himself struggles with it. I thought it was particularly intriguing, since among some survivors, even in later years, that stigma and mindset persisted. My own survivor father never believed that he needed help, despite struggling with severe PTSD symptoms for the rest of his life.

The beginning of the story was a little slower paced, since the death presented as a suicide, and there wasn’t much to see. But Adam persists, and uses all the skills that he learned as a detective in Hungary as well as the connections he’s made in Israel to dig a little deeper. We also get a subplot for a mission to Germany to exact revenge on Nazis who escaped justice, as there was a general view that not enough was done to get justice for the families that were exterminated. 

We already know that Adam isn’t above working outside the law to get what needs to be done accomplished, but he still adheres to his moral code. I’m not sure if it makes him truly a morally gray character, since we’re talking about killing actual Nazis who participated in the Holocaust here, but he also does operate in a gray area of the law, and occasionally on the wrong side of the law at times. 

Overall, this was a quick read with a compelling and sensitive plot. It touches on some heavy issues surrounding past trauma and how people can move on from that, while others can’t. It also discusses the things that motivate people to push through, and how it can change a person, while not necessarily changing their essential nature. This book really delves a lot deeper into who Adam is and what makes him tick, and I liked getting to know him better, and there’s a hell of a plot twist at the end that makes me even more excited to read the rest of this series.

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 5

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