Stephen Friedman is making a good living in real estate in 1970s Los Angeles. He's just an ordinary guyor so he thinks. But one day an extraordinary piece of information tells him differently. It's a clue from the grave of a Holocaust survivor. A clue that makes him heir to an incredible fortune. . .a clue that only he and one other man can possibly understand, and one which leads to a source of power that man is desperate to obtain.
That man is Roth Braun, a serial killer who has been waiting for Stephen for thirty years. Roth was stopped once before. This time nothing will get in his way.
Known worldwide for page-turning, adrenaline-laced thrillers, Dekker raises the stakes in this story of passion, revenge, and an all-consuming obsession for the ultimate treasure
|Product dimensions:||4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
TED DEKKER is a New York Times bestselling author of more than 30 novels with a total of more than 10 million books in print. He is known for thrillers that combine adrenaline-laced plots with incredible confrontations between good and evil.
Learn more: TedDekker.com
Read an Excerpt
Hamburg, Germany July 17, 1973 Tuesday Morning
July 17, 1973
ROTH BRAUN SLOWLY TWISTED THE DOORKNOB AND GAVE THE door a slight shove. A familiar medicinal odor stung his nostrils. Outside,
the sun warmed a midsummer day, but here in the dungeon below the house, the old man lived in perpetual twilight.
Roth imagined a Jew stepping into a delicing shower and let himself relish the horror he might feel in that moment of realizing that more than lice were meant to die in this chamber.
Roth was in a very good mood.
The smothering quiet was broken by the sound of the old prune's tarred, seventy-eight-year-old lungs rasping for relief. Gerhard's wheezing annoyed Roth, ruining his otherwise perfect mood.
The only living soul he despised more than the Jew who'd stolen his power was Gerhard, who had allowed the Jew to steal his power.
He glanced at Klaus, the gangly male nurse who had tended his father for three years. The white-smocked man hovered over Gerhard in the corner of the room, refusing to meet Roth's eyes. Gerhard Braun sat in a dark-red leather recliner, blue eyes glaring over the nasal cannula protruding from each nostril.
"Good morning, Father," Roth said. He closed the door quietly and stepped into the room, pushing aside a curtain of tinkling glass beads that separated it from the entryway. "You wanted to see me?"
His father looked at a servant, who busied himself over the table in the adjacent dining room.
By the trembling in his voice, either Gerhard really was dying, or something was upsetting him, which invariably sowed its own sort of death. How many men alive today had been responsible for as many deaths as his father? They could be counted on two hands.
Even so, Roth hated him.
The servant dipped his head and exited through a side door. The steel door closed and the nurse flinched. Glass in a cabinet behind the table rattled despite the room's solid-concrete walls. The nineteenth-century Russian crystal--one of dozens of similar collections pilfered during the war--had once belonged to the czar. The Nazis' defeat should have sent Gerhard to the gallows; instead, the war had left his father with obscene wealth. The paintings alone had netted him a significant fortune, and these he owned legally. He'd shipped them to Zurich, where a hotly contested law made them his after remaining unclaimed for five years.
Compliments of the Swiss Federation of Art Dealers.
Until the day I suck the energy from your bones, I will love you for showing me the way.
Until the day I suck the energy from your bones, I will despise you for what you did.
Gerhard held up a newspaper. "Have you read this?"
Roth walked across the circular rope rug that covered the black cement slab and stopped five feet from Gerhard. A hawk nose curved over his father's thin, trembling lips. Wispy strands of gray hair backlit by a yellow lamp hovered over his scalp. Skeletal, blue-veined fingers clutched what appeared to be a Los Angeles Times. A stack of newspapers--the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, London's Daily Telegraph, and a dozen others--
sat a half-meter thick on the small end table to his left. Gerhard routinely
spent six hours each day reading.
Gerhard flung the paper with a flick of his wrist, never removing his eyes from Roth. It landed on the floor with a smack.
The male nurse pretended to fiddle with the oxygen tank. Roth stood still. This attitude of Gerhard's was no longer simply ruining his mood,
but destroying it altogether.
"I said, 'Read it'!"
Roth calmly bent and picked up the paper. The Los Angeles Times was folded around an article in the Life section, "Fortune Goes to Museum."
Roth scanned the text. A wealthy woman, a Jew named Rachel Spritzer,
sixty-two years of age, had died three days ago in Los Angeles. She'd been survived by no one and had donated her entire estate to the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust.
"So another Jew's dead." Roth lowered the paper. "Your legacy lives on."
His father clutched the arms of his chair. "Read the rest."
His chest sounded like a whistle.
If Roth wasn't a master of his own impulses, he might have done something stupid, such as kill the man. Instead, he set the paper on the windowsill and turned away. "You've read it, Father. Tell me what it says.
I have a ten o'clock engagement."
Roth walked to the bar. Control. "Just tell me what has you so concerned."
"The Stones of David have me concerned."
Roth blinked. He poured a splash of cognac into a snifter.
"I'm finished chasing your ghosts." He swirled the brandy slowly before sipping it. "If the Stones still exist, we would have found them long ago."
Gerhard managed to stand, trembling from head to foot, red as a rooster around the neck.
"They have been found. And you know what that means."
He launched into a coughing fit.
Roth's pulse quickened a hair and then eased. If the man wasn't dying, he was losing his mind. Surely the Stones hadn't been found after all this time.
Gerhard staggered three steps to the windowsill, pushing his startled nurse out of the way, and grabbed the newspaper. He leaned on the wall with one hand and held the paper up in the other. He threw the paper toward Roth. It fluttered noisily and landed on the black slab.
"Read it!" Gerhard's eyes drilled him. So then maybe there was something to this.
Roth picked up the paper, found the article, and slowly read down the column. What if Gerhard was right? What if the relics did exist after all? They would be priceless. But the Stones' monetary value didn't interest Gerhard--he already had enough wealth to waste in his final years.
Gerhard's obsession was for the journal that had gone missing with the Stones.
And Roth's obsession was for the power that had gone missing with the Jew who'd taken the journal.
He had spent nearly thirty years tracking down innumerable leads,
searching in vain. There was no telling how much wealth had been stripped from the Jews when Hitler had gathered them up and sent them to the camps. Much of the fortune had been confiscated by the gestapo and recovered after the war, but a number of particularly valuable items--
priceless relics that belonged in museums or in vaults--had disappeared.
Some of those treasures could be found in this very house. But any wellheeled collector knew that the most valuable collection had vanished for good in 1945.
The Stones of David.
One stunning item in Spritzer's collection is an extremely old golden medallion,
better known as one of the five Stones of David. According to legend,
the medallions are the actual stones selected by David to kill the giant Goliath. The smooth stones were subsequently gilded and stamped with the Star of David. The collection was last verified in 1307, when they were held by the Knights Templars. The collection was rumored to be held by a wealthy Jewish collector before World War II but went missing before the claim could be verified.
Alone, each medallion may be worth over $10,000,000. But the collection in its entirety is valued at roughly $100,000,000. The relic will be displayed in a museum yet to be disclosed with the following cryptic caption at Rachel Spritzer's request: "The Stones are like the lost orphans. They will eventually find each other."
Sweat cooled Roth's palms. He set the paper on the bar, set an unsteady finger in its margin, and scanned to the end.
Rachel Spritzer lived alone in an apartment complex she owned on La Brea Avenue and died a widow. The complex will be sold by the estate, along with much of Spritzer's noncollectible property.
Rudy and Rachel Spritzer immigrated to the United States sixteen years ago, five years before Rudy was killed in an automobile accident.
For a moment Roth's vision clouded. His mouth went dry
."Now I have your attention?" Gerhard demanded.
Roth read the article again, searching for any phrase that might undermine the possibility that this Jew could be anyone other than whom Gerhard was suggesting.
"She was sixty-two," Gerhard said. "The right age."
Roth's mind flashed back to those war years when he was only twelve.
Even if the connections were only circumstantial, he could hardly ignore them.
"I knew the Jew survived," Gerhard said.
"She donated only one Stone. There were five."
"If one Stone exists, then the journal exists. Someone has that journal!"
"You will make her speak from the grave." Gerhard swayed on his feet, right fist trembling. His eyes looked black in the basement's shadows."She knew. She knew about the journal."
"She's dead!" Roth snapped. He took a deep breath, irritated with himself for losing control. The fact was, Gerhard's history with the Stones gave him knowledge that no one else could possibly have.
"You know well enough that the journal implicates the entire line of elders. It lists each of our names and the names of the women we killed.
It must be found!"
Mention of the women triggered a coppery taste in the back of Roth's mouth. The last time he'd seen the journal, it contained 243 names. Roth would one day surpass that number, he had vowed it.
But even a thousand or ten thousand would not compensate for the one that had escaped Gerhard
."That woman would toy with me even in her death," the old man said. "In her house, in her belongings--somewhere, the old bat left a trail.
You will go to Los Angeles." The nurse, Klaus, moved to assist Gerhard back to his seat, but the old man shook him off. Klaus retreated.
Gerhard was right. The Stones could lead to the journal. The journal could lead to the Jew. The Jew would lead to power, a supernatural power that his father had never attained. But Roth would.
The prospect of finding the Jew after so many years felt delightfully obscene.
Roth realized that his fingers were trembling.
"The United States," Roth said absently. "We don't have the same liberties there."
"That's never stopped you before."
The notion swarmed Roth like bees from a disturbed hive. Hope.
More than hope--a desperate urgency to possess. Pounding heart, dry mouth. He was no fool. He would neither fight the emotion nor show it.
After lingering so long on the edges of his mind, the desire to possess this one lost hope swallowed him. This is what Roth lived for, the purest form of power found in the very emotion that at this very moment raged through his body.
In his mind's eye he was already flying to America. He would have to move quickly, set the trap immediately. There was no telling how long they would keep the old Jew's collectibles in Los Angeles.
Roth stared into his father's blue eyes for a few long seconds, torn between the man's mad obsession with the past and his own with the future. What Roth did for tomorrow, Gerhard did because of yesterday.
Who was the better man?
He remembered the first dead Jew he'd seen in the camps twenty-eight years ago. He'd been eating fresh eggs and sausage prepared by one of the Polish servants from the village for breakfast. It was the most delicious
breakfast he'd ever tasted. Perhaps leaving his mother in Germany to spend the summer with his father up in Poland would be a good thing after all. He was twelve at the time.
"What?" his father asked, walking toward the window overlooking the concentration camp.
"Why do Polish eggs taste better than German eggs?
His father pulled back the curtain, and Roth saw a woman hanging from the main gate. Gerhard answered him, but Roth didn't hear the response. The year was 1942, and hers was the first of many dead bodies Roth would see in Poland. But there was something about the first.
Roth let the memory linger, then returned his mind to the Stones.His father's eyes glistened with tears; his face wrinkled.
"The Jew took my soul. She took my soul! I beg you, my son." Roth felt a terrible pity for him. A single tear broke free and ran down Gerhard's right cheek.
"If the Jew is alive, she will be drawn by the Stone," Roth said.
"Forget the Jew. I must have the journal. You see that, don't you?
More than anything, I must have it." He held out a spindly arm laced with bulging veins. "Swear it to me. Swear you'll bring me what is mine."
Roth looked at the large swastika on the gray wall, sickened by Gerhard's weakness. He would make it right, because the Stones meant far more to him than they could possibly mean to his father.
"Come here," Roth said to the nurse.
Klaus glanced at Gerhard then stepped out from the shadows.
Roth backed up and stepped off the rug. There was the right way and the wrong way to do this, and the purest in mind knew the difference.
"Farther, to the middle of the rug," he said.
Klaus took another step so that he stood near the center of the rug.
"I would like to repay you for your care of my father," Roth said."Few men could put up with a whining old man the way you do. Is there anything you would like?"
No response. Of course not.
"Anything at all?"
The nurse lowered his head. "No sir."
Roth pulled out his gun and shot Klaus through the top of his head while he was still bent over. The slug likely ended up in his throat.
The man dropped in a pile.
Roth looked at his father. "You should have sent him out."
"You're working against your own kind," Gerhard said. "He was pure."
"Then I did him a favor by sending him to his grave pure."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This has been an addictive page turner. It's kept me on pins and needles. There were times where I couldn't bear to turn the page because I just didn't want to know if the character was going to encounter an ugly end, or a great success. However I just had to keep going and read it because I really wanted to know what happened. The action and the plot were well written and it just keeps you on edge. It's been a very suspenseful plot and a very thrilling ride. Stephen as a character is what makes the story funny and keeps the action going as he keeps on pressing towards his goal. I say it's funny because there were just things Stephen had to do which just made me laugh out loud. Roth on the other hand, makes the story very chilling and dark, he's your average villain, but add more evil (about 3 cups) and take away the soul and you get Roth. I have never read a villain such as this and he would most likely end up on my top ten villain list. He was just very real, and oozes evil (he even has the black ensemble to match it). Of all the characters mentioned though, I liked Ruth. Her strength, and her ability to see the good and be able to hold onto hope even when she was surrounded by death and hopelessness was very admirable. Considering the author is known more for his Christian fiction, and he does make references to faith and God in his works, the book did not seem preachy at all. It did not get in the way of the plot. So those who aren't into Christian fiction like I am, the story really has nothing to do with God, or anything of any religious denomination. Just read it for the plot, and the spine chilling events. You'll be a satisfied reader like I was. Obsession does play a major theme in this book; both from Stephen's side, and from Roth's. What frustrated me about the story is certain parts of the book where the characters decide to just stop and hesitate and think about what they're doing when they should be running out the door and running like hell. I don't get it. I felt like jumping in and kicking them towards the exit and to stop thinking and blubbering like idiots. It was extremely frustrating and annoying. Overall though, an excellent page turner with all the right plot twists and thrilling moments at the right times. Give this a read if you want a great thrilling ride
Obsessed was completely wicked! Just when you think you have it figured out, the plot takes another twist. The story combines many character's stories in one crazy, hectic, breathtaking ride. If you like suspense, or mystery, or are just bored, you should read this book.
I read a lot. And to admit this is litterally the best book ive ever read means something. This book is more than just a thriller. Ted Dekker's writing style makes you feel as though you yourself are in the same situation. It is amazing. From your skin crawling to your heart beating for hope, you feel every emotion of the characters do as though they were yours. AMAZING!
Loved this book!!
Intense with action, drama, suspense, history and a bit of a love story. The Holocaust has always been a fascinating part of history for me so weaving a story through and around it was a bonus. Had a very hard time putting this book down!
Im a huge fan of ted dekker but this is my favorite of them all! This is one book that no matter how many times i have read it i will alwaya pick it up again. I highly recommend this book to anyone, but especially to those who like historical fiction.
One theme I found in Ted Dekker's book Obsessed was, like the title sates, obsession. Obsession can be communicated through a lot of different things. Just a few of these things are love, ideas, and desires. Obsessions dominate your thoughts with one of those things. In the story we meet Stephen Friedman, an orphan of WWII that had moved to the United States, living in California in 1973. He finds out that his mother is a Jewish woman that had survived the Torun work camp during the Holocaust. Stephen's mother dies before he meets her and leaves behind a Jewish relic, one of the 5 Stones of David. Stephen forms an obsession for this idea of the Stone of David. Not only are the gold stones valuable, they are the key to Stephen's past. "The Stones are like the lost orphans. They will eventually find each other." That's another part of the Stones of David and their history. This saying could be said to be the motto of Roth Braun, the son of the SS Officer that ran Torun during the Holocaust. Roth is on a mission to complete what his father had started many years ago. He also forms and obsession to find what Stephen's mother, Rachel, had left behind; the Stones of David, belongings that survived the war, and Stephen. I found the book interesting and it grabbed my attention. When I'd got a chance to read, it would be at large chunks of pages at a time because I got caught up in the characters. I liked Obsessed because of the vivid descriptions and emotion. A little spoiler: one of my favorite parts was when Stephen snuck into his mother's old home dressed as a woman. I don't think you'll be disappointed when you pick up this book.
If you are interested in Ted Dekker books this is a MUST READ!! If you have never read a book, or a Ted Dekker book it is an Amazing/Great book to start with. It isn't in a series, its just a single book. One story. But probably one of my favorites!! Will never put it down!! Read the first couple chapters get past the explaining part and...BOOOOM it hits you with a suspensful mystery that keeps you on the edge!!! If you are a fann of National Treasure the movie, it is definitely similiar with a Christian touch to it, that in my opinion only believers will understand. BUY THIS!!!
This was another outstanding book by my favorite Author Ted Dekker. His creativity keeps you turning in circles until the big picture is revealed in the end. This was no exception. I also like his methods of making people understand that there is more to out there then what you see, and how your life can be changed in an instant. This was an overall great read. However I would suggest reading THREE also by Ted Dekker
For the past four years I havent read a book unless it was assigned in school and even then I never read I just printed off some footnotes. But I was driving to FL from IL long Ride and nothing to do and found obsessed in my moms purse I started reading And could not put it down! I read the whole book in three days!!! I still dont read often but when I do I read Ted Dekker
I love all Ted Dekker books and this was no exception. It took me a few chapters to get into it but I found it to be a page-turner after that.
Another good book by Ted Dekker; its action was riveting and the pace of the story was good. I found some of the actions of the characters a little unrealistic and in particular the background of the villain and his motivations were not properly explained in my estimation and so it let to a lot of inference and guessing by the reader. Overall though a very good story that kept my attention and kept me guessing till the end exactly how it would all turn out. For a piece of religious themed fiction it was not overly preachy and had no gratuitous mentions of God and Christianity.
great book ! lotts of history, cant imagine having to live through those days of the camps. so sad. but good ending.
When the protagonist in a thriller is an everyman, like Stephen Friedman, in Obsessed, the author has a big challenge: This character must choose to do things that a rational human being would not do, yet it must be believable to the reader. This has been a dificulty for Dekker in several of his books that I've read, and is again here. I never felt that Stephen had sufficient motivation for the insane things he chose to do. In the third Lord of the Rings book, there is an excrutiating episode in which there is a battle. When the enemey breaches a wall, the heroes retreat behind another wall. The enemy breaches that wall, and the heroes retreat behind another wall. Although Lord of the Rings is one of the great classics of literature, I found this particular battle a bit tedious, as I read the same thing over and over. The middle of "Obsessed" has that problem as well. Stephen must break into a house to gain access to a safe. He tries and is foiled. He tries again and is foiled again. He tries again and is foiled again. It just goes on for one or two more times than is beneficial to the story.In spite of these problems, and in spite of the fact that I'm not a Christian myself, I still liked the book all right, and will read more Dekker. I hope some of his other books measure up to his Circle Trilogy, which was amazing.
This book was another page-turner! you just have to know what happens to the main character as soon as you pick up the book!
Are you obsessed? You probably are, though you may not realize it. Just how deeply do you obsess over certain things, causes, etc.The two main characters of this novel are definitely obsessed. Roth Braun knows he is obsessed with power. Stephen Friedman comes to find out that he is obsessed with finding out his true identity and ultimately his soul mate.The obsessions of this plot start in a World War II concentration camp. Two mothers are in a life and death struggle against the commandant and his son. Liberation by the Russians brings a respite but not a conclusion.The conclusion comes in 1973 after a laborious effort to uncover a holocaust survivor¿s treasure located in a Los Angeles apartment building. The treasure forces Stephen to follow Braun to his lair in Germany and then Poland. Most of the work focuses on Stephen¿s efforts to obtain the treasure in the apartment building. But the plot moves very rapidly after the reader is taken to Germany.The plot has several surprises sprinkled throughout. Esther and Ruth were the most notable to me. I am normally a very slow reader. A 380-page work will normally keep me busy for three weeks or more. I got caught up in the obsession and read the entire thing in about three sittings. The story does have its weaknesses. One sub-plot based on serial killings doesn¿t seem to have much of a purpose other than to further develop Braun¿s character. A couple of situations are unrealistic, especially Stephen¿s endeavor to pass off as a female building inspector. But then again, he is obsessed.One thing of which more conservative Christian readers should beware is that the Braun is an exceedingly dark antagonist and the story follows from the concentration camps to the conclusion accordingly. However, the ending is redeeming.Obsessed is perhaps some of the best fiction I have ever read in that I think I got the overall ¿point¿ of the story. I constantly found myself thinking, ¿What really drives me to take the actions that I do?¿
This was my first book by Ted Dekker. It was a page Turner. I really enjoyed it.
One of Dekkers finest works !