The Final Reckoning

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Overview

Once an idealistic lawyer, Tom Byrne will work for anyone now, if the money’s right. An official at the United Nations needs him to placate the family of a harmless old man mistaken for a suicide bomber and shot to death by UN Security. But Byrne soon discovers this victim was not quite as innocent as he appeared to be.

Together with the dead man’s daughter, Byrne uncovers the existence of a clandestine brotherhood responsible for hundreds of unexplained deaths worldwide. Now ...

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The Final Reckoning: A Novel

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Overview

Once an idealistic lawyer, Tom Byrne will work for anyone now, if the money’s right. An official at the United Nations needs him to placate the family of a harmless old man mistaken for a suicide bomber and shot to death by UN Security. But Byrne soon discovers this victim was not quite as innocent as he appeared to be.

Together with the dead man’s daughter, Byrne uncovers the existence of a clandestine brotherhood responsible for hundreds of unexplained deaths worldwide. Now Tom is a marked man—a target of assassins who will destroy him for what he’s learned—as he races to unearth a mystery buried for more than six decades . . . the last great secret of World War II.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
British author Bourne (the pseudonym of Jonathan Freedland) wisely eschews another foray into Da Vinci Code territory, like The Righteous Men or The Last Testament, in this solid suspense novel focused on the recent past. Former U.N. lawyer Tom Byrne gets an early morning phone call from his old boss, Henning Munchau, who wants Tom back for one more job. A guard at the U.N. building has just shot a suspected terrorist who was thought to be a suicide bomber, except it turns out that this supposed terrorist is Gerald Merton, a 77-year-old Lithuanian Holocaust survivor who as a child fought the Nazis as part of the Jewish underground. When Byrne investigates, he finds that Merton is not as innocent as he appears, and that his visit to the U.N. concerns a great secret that spans the years from the end of WWII to the present. Happily, Bourne has tightened up his writing and toned down the feverish pace and purple prose of his earlier work. (Dec.)
Library Journal
Warned of a possible terrorist targeting the United Nations building in New York City, a security guard shoots a possible suspect only to discover that he was a senior citizen, Gerald Merton, visiting from London. Working swiftly to avert a media scandal, the UN legal counsel brings in a former employee from their department, Tom Byrne, to shadow the NYPD's lead investigator, Jay Sherrill. Tom is sent to London to smooth things over with Merton's bereaved daughter, Rebecca. Then Jay discovers that Gerald may not have been as innocent as originally thought. As Tom and Rebecca quickly discover her father's past involvement with a covert group of Holocaust survivors, they become targets for those who would do anything to protect their secrets. VERDICT By alternating between the past and the present, Bourne (The Righteous Men), aka British journalist Jonathan Freedland, has crafted a dark and intensely gripping thriller that vividly captures the emotional maelstrom and physical destruction of World War II Europe. His latest will stay with readers long after they have closed the book.—Joy Gunn, Henderson Libs., NV
Kirkus Reviews

The shooting of an old man at the U.N. sends a lawyer to London, where he uncovers yet another dark tale from the Holocaust, in British journalist Bourne's thriller, which is based on actual events.

As heads of government arrive in New York to speak to the General Assembly during U.N. Week, the world organization's security staff has good reason to be on high alert for terrorists. And a U.N. guard also has good reason to shoot and kill a suspicious man who appears to be carrying an explosive. The victim, Gerald Merton, seems a harmless, unarmed 77-year-old man. But at once, and to no great surprise, clues and questions emerge suggesting he actually may have been an assassin. During an autopsy, lawyer Tom Byrne, called in on the case by the U.N., notes how muscular the man was, especially for his age. Also curious is the fact that Merton, a Jew, was un-circumcised. Moreover, Merton's phone shows he made a call to a Russian arms dealer and, later, New York police uncover a gun beneath the floorboards of his apartment. To find out what Merton was up to, Byrne flies to London to question the victim's daughter, Rebecca. Spurning Byrne, she lashes out at the U.N. for killing a Holocaust survivor. Passion, of course, has its way: "[Byrne] could smell her, the scent flooding him with lust." Soon they share an "urgent" kiss and then endeavor to learn the nature of Merton's mission. From Merton's journals, Byrne learns that during World War II, Merton was spirited into the Jewish underground, eventually leading a mission that would continue long after the conflict. Byrne also discovers several passports that suggest Merton traveled under several aliases and news clippings that may explain his intentions. When Rebecca's flat is ransacked, it appears someone else is on to Merton's case.

Byrne's journey and its genuinely surprising discoveries provide an engaging core to a tale hampered by repetitions, unnecessary subplots and preachy dialogue.

USA Today
“The story, in part inspired by an actual conspiracy, has the tempo of an Indiana Jones movie mixed with the sensibilities of a history book.”
Booklist
“Bourne brings some lesser-known history into focus here, integrating brutal descriptions of Nazi terror into his modern-day thriller. . . . His prose is sharp and clear, especially when he’s dealing with history.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061875748
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/7/2010
  • Pages: 423
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Sam Bourne is the literary pseudonym of Jonathan Freedland, an award-winning British journalist and broadcaster. He has written a weekly column for The Guardian since 1997, having previously served as the paper's Washington correspondent. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, The New Republic, and The Jewish Chronicle, and he presents BBC Radio 4's contemporary-history series The Long View.

For nearly two decades he has covered the Middle East conflict, and in 2002 he chaired a three-day dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, which was sponsored by The Guardian. The participants in that meeting went on to broker the 2003 Geneva Accord.

Freedland is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Righteous Men, also a number-one bestseller in the UK, which has been translated into thirty-one languages, and the nonfiction works Jacob's Gift and Bring Home the Revolution. He lives in London with his wife and two children.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 12 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 17, 2011

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    A POWERFUL THRILLER WITH MULTIPLE TWISTS

    Writing as Sam Bourne British author Jonathan Freedland has crafted a chilling suspense novel based in large part on recent history. It's a conspiracy thriller that segues between past and present. The past includes terrifying descriptions of the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis, and the heroic efforts of the captured people simply to survive.

    We are made aware of the subject matter in the Prologue: "So forgive me if what you read here is harsh, if it haunts you the way it haunts me. But there will be no exaggeration, no lies. I may not tell everything, but what I will tell will be the truth." It is, indeed, a difficult story to read at times; one that will surely not be forgotten.

    Our protagonist is Tom Byrne, a lawyer who has become disillusioned, and will now work for anyone, the mafia included. When an old friend at the U.N. asks him to take on a job he accepts - he's one of those guys who has nothing to lose.

    A man on the U.N. security staff has shot and killed a supposed suicide bomber - the man fit the description, dark overcoat, hat. However, the victim was only an elderly man. Byrne is dispatched to go to London and try to mollify the family. That in itself could be a difficult task, but it becomes even more difficult when the man turns out not to be quite so innocent after all.

    With the man's daughter, Rebecca, Tom discovers a secret group that is joined in one mission - to go throughout the world to find and kill the Nazis responsible for atrocities inflicted upon the Jews. This part of the story is based upon the actual actions of Holocaust survivors.

    THE FINAL RECKONING is a powerful thriller with multiple twists and turns. It is compulsive reading grounded in recent history.

    - Gail Cooke

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2012

    Amazing

    This book compelled me from the beginning page. I have always held a fascination about the unholy massacre of millions of Jews as well as others. How could this be? This story filled me the urge to read and read until I knew the whole story. Now, I want to go back and actually read these true accounts. I encourage you to read this book. It will change the way you thought of this genocide.

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  • Posted February 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Brave Tale

    Using the suffering of the Jewish people as the main reason for propelling your novel is a brave endeavor. One misstep and the whole thing can fall apart. The Final Reckoning is a good tale, one which does use this suffering in a way meant to help others learn from it, but it does at times have elements that cause the reader to suspend belief. Much of it is not plausible. But, when compared to other thrillers, it holds its own and becomes a relatively honest tale that keeps the reader involved, both to be entertained but also on another level to be informed.

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  • Posted October 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    a taut twisting thriller

    Following a terrorist alert, septuagenarian Lithuanian Gerald Merton is visiting the United Nations when a security guard shoots and kills him believing the elderly man was a suicide bomber. Henning Munchau asks former agency lawyer Tom Byrne to help with the expected media brouhaha. Tom agrees.

    Tom journeys to London to offer the UN's condolences and apologies to the victim's grieving daughter Rebecca. At the same time NYPD Detective Jay Sherrill leads the investigation. The cop soon uncovers some links dating back to the end of WWII that ties the deceased to a Holocaust survivor group that Merton belonged to. This aging unit wants secrets to remain concealed and killing a cop, a daughter and a lawyer is an acceptable practice.

    The Final Reckoning is a taut twisting thriller that grips the audience from the opening in New York, but especially hooks readers when the past hauntingly surfaces. The cast is strong as each in their way (either through investigation or firsthand and secondhand nightmarish memories) brings forth the dark vivid picture of Europe when the horrors of the Final Solution became internationally known. Sam Bourne provides a powerful "Never Forget" tale.

    Harriet Klausner

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