The Witnesses

The Witnesses

by Robert Whitlow

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781401688905
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 07/19/2016
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 548,720
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Robert Whitlow is the bestselling author of legal novels set in the South and winner of the Christy Award for Contemporary Fiction. He received his J.D. with honors from the University of Georgia School of Law where he served on the staff of the Georgia Law Review. Website: robertwhitlow.com; Twitter: @whitlowwriter; Facebook: robertwhitlowbooks.

Read an Excerpt

The Witnesses


By ROBERT WHITLOW

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2016 Robert Whitlow
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4016-8891-2


CHAPTER 1

Germany-Belgium Border, 1939


Franz Haus entered the small chapel. The dark stone walls were bare, and the windows were narrow slits that hearkened back to the days when archers defended a monastery from military attack. Light from the windows cast sharp, distinct lines on the stone floor. A junior officer in the German Wehrmacht, Franz's high black boots clicked against the floor of the church as he walked slowly down the aisle.

"Hello!" he called out in German.

No one answered, and Franz stepped up to the altar rail that separated the common from the holy. To the left was a wooden pulpit made of dark wood that shone with a deep luster. A massive Bible lay open on a broad table directly across the railing. Glancing over his shoulder to make sure he was alone, Franz opened a small gate in the railing and approached the table. The Holy Book was a work of art with gilted edges. The first letter of each chapter was embellished by fantastic creatures from land and sea. The Bible was open to 2 Kings 6. Franz read the words translated from Hebrew into classic German by Martin Luther. When he reached verses 8 through 12, his heart started beating so hard he thought it might jump out of his chest:


Then the king of Syria warred against Israel, and took counsel with his servants, saying, "In such and such a place shall be my camp." And the man of God sent unto the king of Israel, saying, "Beware that thou pass not such a place; for thither the Syrians are coming down." And the king of Israel sent to the place of which the man of God told him and warned him, and saved himself there, not once nor twice. Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was sore troubled by this thing; and he called his servants and said unto them, "Will ye not show me which of us is for the king of Israel?" And one of his servants said, "None, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber."


Elisha was a witness to what no one else could see, and the prophet's secret knowledge turned the tide of battle for his nation. To reveal the unseen, to protect the fatherland, was a noble calling. Franz put his hand in his pocket and felt the Iron Cross awarded to his grandfather for extraordinary valor during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870-1871. This was Franz's hour, his time to step into his destiny.

Turning around, he left the church.

* * *

Southwestern Germany, 1944

There was a sharp knock on the door. Hauptmann Franz Haus hastily folded the letter and slipped it into the inner pocket of his military jacket. He neatly draped the jacket bearing the insignia of a captain over a plain wooden chair.

"Come in," he said crisply.

The door opened, and a soldier entered who looked so much like Franz's younger brother, Wilhelm, that Franz suddenly wondered if he'd stepped into the unseen realm. The soldier's salute and "Heil Hitler" banished any doubt of present reality.

"General Berg will see you in fifteen minutes in the library of the main house, sir. You will then accompany him to the briefing."

"Thank you, Private. You're dismissed."

The soldier didn't move. "He ordered me to accompany you, sir," he continued.

Franz's mouth suddenly went dry. It was his job, not that of his commanding officer, to discern secret thoughts and plans.

"Very well. Please wait outside. I'll be ready in a few minutes."

The soldier turned on his heel. Franz waited until the door closed, then retrieved the letter he had written to his father in Dresden. He read it again. The vision that prompted the words had been clear. In his mind's eye he'd witnessed the horror of the all-consuming flames and could almost feel the searing heat. However, Franz had been mistaken in the past in interpreting what he saw.

Sitting in a simple wooden chair, Franz polished his dress boots with an oily rag and made up his mind. Better to warn of danger and be wrong than to keep silent and bear the guilt of disaster. Seeing the resemblance between the private and Wilhelm strengthened Franz's resolve to act. Overcoming his father's doubts would be as hard as dislodging an entrenched enemy from a well-fortified position, but the last blood Franz wanted on his conscience was that of his family. Perhaps his father would at least discuss the letter with Franz's mother. She would act.

Tossing the rag in the corner of the room, Franz stood and slipped on his jacket. It was not typical military protocol for a twenty-three-year-old without any military pedigree to receive regular access to the commander of an infantry division in a German army group. But Franz was no ordinary soldier. He inspected himself in the handheld mirror that was part of his dopp kit. He kept his light brown hair cut close to his scalp, masking the tight curls his mother had loved since his hair first sprouted. He had a square jaw and clear blue eyes. The ability of those eyes to see what others could not caused General Berg to call him "the Aryan Eagle." Franz hated the label.

A shade under six feet tall with a slender build, Franz rubbed his hands across the front of his uniform. When he did, he noticed a dark spot left from a wine spill the previous day. He didn't worry about the spot. One welcome perk he enjoyed because of General Berg's favor was a pass from close inspection of his appearance or quarters, a privilege that drove Major Deigel, his immediate commander, to red-faced distraction. Deigel may have been Franz's superior on an organizational chart, but not in practice.

Franz opened the door and the private snapped to attention. He followed the soldier down a narrow hallway in the former dormitory of an abandoned school at the edge of the estate. They stepped outside into the sleepy warmth of an early-summer afternoon. Linden, beech, and Norway spruce trees, the same trees that covered the nearby Black Forest, surrounded the buildings. The linden trees were Franz's favorite. On a class trip when he was seven years old, he'd had his picture taken in front of the squat, gnarly trunk of the Kaditzer Linde, the oldest tree in his hometown of Dresden.

"Private, what sort of trees grow where you live?" Franz asked.

The soldier glanced over his shoulder. Outside, he looked even younger — a boy who should be kicking a soccer ball, not carrying a rifle.

"I'm from Kiel, sir. There is a big maple tree in my aunt's yard. It turns bright red in the fall."

Kiel was a major port on the Baltic Sea and home to people with a mix of German and Viking heritage.

"Why didn't you join the navy?" Franz asked.

"I tried to, sir, but I was sent to the army."

"Is this your first assignment?"

"Yes, sir. I arrived last week."

They turned toward the chateau and stepped onto a narrow stone walkway rubbed smooth by years of countless footsteps. Bits of moss peeked from the cracks between the stones. They reached the front door where two guards with machine guns stood on either side of the entrance.

"Thank you, Private," Franz said.

The freshly minted soldier delivered another smart salute and a "Heil Hitler."

Franz casually reciprocated. The young man turned to leave.

"Oh, one other thing," Franz said, causing the soldier to stop and face him.

Franz looked into the private's eyes and knew the young man had not yet seen or smelled death.

"If an opportunity to join another unit in the north comes up, don't accept it, even though it might look like a chance to be closer to home."

The soldier's eyes widened. "My uncle is an oberst with the Army Group North and is trying to arrange a transfer."

"Respectfully ask him to stop."

The private opened his mouth, then closed it without speaking. Franz turned away and walked up the steps toward the chateau. One of the guards opened the door for him. Franz didn't look back. He doubted the young man from Kiel would heed his warning.

Faded Oriental carpets that whispered of their former glory covered the marble floor of the expansive foyer. Inside the library eight or nine senior officers were sitting in leather chairs. A thin haze of cigarette smoke hung in the air. General Berg hadn't arrived. No one paid any attention to Franz, who slipped to the side of the room. Many of the volumes on the shelves were in French. He thumbed through Germinal, a novel by Émile Zola about the brutal life of coal miners in northern France in the 1860s. Franz had read parts of the novel in French class in school, but he couldn't remember much about it beyond the difficulty he had conjugating the verbs.

"Zola?" a man's voice said. "That's trash, Hauptmann. Don't waste your time."

Franz turned and faced a middle-aged oberst with red cheeks and a thin goatee.

"He's the Jew-lover who came to the defense of Dreyfus," the officer continued, referring to the Jewish French officer convicted of spying for Germany in the 1890s. "It turned out he was innocent, of course, but it took the French years to sort it out. However, no Jew can be trusted. It's not in their nature to love any country."

As a boy Franz was friends with two Jewish brothers. Their father served in the German army during the Great War and received the Iron Cross first-class. It was hard to imagine anyone more patriotic than the boys' father, who proudly displayed his service medals in a case on the wall in the foyer of the family home. Franz had lost track of the brothers when he joined the army. He returned the book to its place on the shelf.

Every man sitting in the room suddenly jumped to his feet as General Berg entered. The general, a short man with thinning gray hair and a paunch caused by a lifelong love of sweet pastries, quickly made his way around the room. Flanked by three aides, the general stopped in front of Franz, who stood ramrod-straight.

"Hauptmann Haus, come with me."

Franz saw a puzzled look cross the face of the oberst who'd spoken to him about Zola and felt the eyes of other officers in the room on his back as he followed the general from the room. Army Group G, tasked with defending southern France from an anticipated Allied invasion, was a recent creation, and few officers knew that Franz had long been a part of General Berg's inner circle.

"We can't talk in there," the general said when they reached the door. "It's smokier than an Egyptian coke factory. Apparently they haven't gotten the word about no smoking in my presence."

Franz followed the general down a hallway, up a half flight of stairs, and around a corner into a small windowless room with white cabinets on the walls.

"Leave us," the general said to his aides, who backed out of the room and closed the door.

"A footman's antechamber," Berg said, opening the door to an empty cabinet. "These cabinets should be filled with silver serving platters."

The senior commander coughed into the back of his hand. Berg was more likely to die from emphysema than to fall in battle.

"I sent your report on the Allied invasion to a senior officer I know on General Von Rundstedt's staff. Are you one hundred percent sure the landings at Normandy aren't a feint, with the real invasion to take place at Pas de Calais? I'm sticking my neck into someone else's fight, and I don't want to get it chopped off."

Franz licked his lips. "As sure as I was about the enemy's intentions southeast of Sedan," he replied.

Sedan, on the France-Belgium border, was the site of a major battle in May 1940. Franz, a junior lieutenant at the time, made an unorthodox tactical recommendation to his captain, who reported it to General Berg. The general summoned a trembling Franz to his headquarters for a fuller explanation. Reconnaissance confirmed Franz's hunch, and the resulting victory boosted General Berg's career and cemented the relationship between him and the fresh-faced lieutenant.

Franz's mind flashed back to the carnage after the battle was over. The bodies of enemy soldiers lay contorted and dismembered throughout the woods. Although he'd not fired a single shot, Franz knew he was connected to every corpse. Since then he'd seen thousands of dead bodies: German, French, Italian, British, and American displayed in a macabre mural of untimely death.

Inwardly, Franz trembled at the horror of war. His toughest struggle was trying to erase from his memory individual faces, comrades he knew from the mess hall and unknown enemies whose countenances, for one reason or another, remained imprinted on his mind.

Two specific events — a mission in Siena in northern Italy and the treatment of resistance fighters in a nearby French village — had undermined Franz's loyalty to the German cause. And he was still reeling from a terrifying dream of tornadoes he saw sweeping toward Germany from the east at the time of the invasion of the Soviet Union. Franz's homeland had sown to the wind and was now reaping the whirlwind. The Allied invasion of France would succeed unless immediately repulsed. Without question, Germany was on the verge of losing the war, and there was nothing he or any other loyal soldier could do to stop it.

"Have you considered asking General Blaskowitz to exert his influence?" he asked. General Johannes Blaskowitz was the supreme commander of Army Group G. His headquarters lay ten kilometers to the west. Franz had not yet met him.

"General Blaskowitz is a soldier first with little interest in politics. He spent a couple of years in internal exile after complaining about the conduct of SS units during the invasion of Poland. Now that he has a command again, he's not going to cross Berlin when the big shots are wedded to a Calais invasion. And I'm not sure I want to tell him about you. Not yet, maybe never."

The general coughed again. Franz could hear the older man wheeze as he took in his next breath.

"At any rate, he'll be here this evening for a formal reception," the general continued. "I want you to evaluate him and let me know what you think."

"Yes, sir."

"Do you have anything new to tell me?" the general asked, clearing his throat.

The question was always part of their conversations. Franz kept his hand from going to the letter in his pocket. Dresden was hundreds of kilometers to the east. What happened there had no relevance to Army Group G.

"No, sir."

"If something comes to you, I'll need it prior to the reception. It's supposed to be a social event, but I anticipate General Blaskowitz will pull General Kittel and myself aside for a private conversation."

"Yes, sir."

"Oh, one other thing," the general said. "There's a possibility General Krieger will be here next week."

Franz shifted on his feet. The powerful staff officer from Berlin had visited General Berg when the division was in the Tuscany region of Italy and was the person who ordered the mission to Siena. Young for a general, the ambitious Krieger was cold-blooded, cruel, and greedy.

"Do you know why he's coming?" Franz asked nervously.

"It probably has to do with this." The general rubbed his thumb against his fingers. "We're close to France, and the general is always on the lookout for something of value. He appreciates what we did for him in Siena."

Franz's mouth went dry. "Herr General," he began but then stopped.

"Out with it," Berg ordered. "Don't waste my time."

Franz took a deep breath and licked his lips. "Do you think General Krieger may transfer me to Berlin?" he asked.

The general swore. Franz stepped back.

"It's possible," the general growled. "And I'm not sure I could stop him, especially if the high command wants you there."

"I want to remain on your staff, sir," Franz said, trying to keep the panic out of his voice.

"Of course you do. But if duty calls ..." The general paused. "Maybe Krieger won't show. The adjunct who contacted me said it was only a possibility."

They left the antechamber. Franz lagged behind the general's entourage as they made their way to the large dining room where the briefing and reception would take place. The threat of a transfer to Berlin was real. Anxious thoughts began racing through Franz's mind. A soldier stepped in front of him. Franz almost ran into him.

"Hauptmann Haus, a telegram for you," the young man said, holding out his hand.

Franz wasn't expecting a message. Shaking his head to clear it, he took the telegram into the dining room. An enormous chandelier filled the room with a stunning display of reflected light. Stepping into a corner, he opened the message. It was from his aunt. As the impact of the words hit him, the lights of the chandelier blurred, and his concerns about General Krieger vanished.

Franz's family was dead.

CHAPTER 2

Franz held the telegram tightly in his right hand as he blinked and tried to refocus on the room. He saw one of General Berg's aides standing a few feet away and stepped over to him.

Keeping his gaze lowered, he spoke in a hoarse whisper. "If he asks, please tell the general I don't feel well and went to my quarters.

Not waiting for a response, Franz walked rapidly from the room. By the time he reached the smooth stone pathway outside, tears had begun to fall down his cheeks.

His father, mother, brother, and little sister lived in a modest working-class neighborhood in one of the industrial areas surrounding Dresden. Two nights earlier, a solitary bomb had scored a direct hit on the house, killing everyone instantly. His family was most likely asleep when they died.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Witnesses by ROBERT WHITLOW. Copyright © 2016 Robert Whitlow. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Witnesses 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book, I didnt want to stop reading once I got started
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Whitlow is a very talented writer. His books are always a pleasure to read, not least because he so skillfully presents the spiritual aspects of the decisions his characters nake.
Anonymous 3 days ago
Good book!
Anonymous 6 months ago
Such an enjoyable and heart rendering read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A perfect palette of suspense, drama, comedy and Christianity. Mr. Whitlow blends them all together to paint a wonderful yarn of southern charm.
debhgrty More than 1 year ago
Deb’s Dozen: Grandfather and grandson—both see glimpses of the future. Blessing or curse? Robert Whitlow’s The Witnesses is an entertaining story about law and romance in the South. Frank House aka Franz Haus has a new life in America. He served on General Berg’s staff where he was known as the Aryan Eagle because of his insights into future situations and his ability to predict the outcomes. He deserted after a horrific experience near the end of World War II, then spent the balance of the war hiding in plain site as a fisherman on the Seine. Feeling called to the US, he traveled here, married, and had children. His daughter and son were killed by a drunk driver and his grandson, Parker, came to live with him. Now Frank and his best friend, Lenny, spend most of their days fishing. Parker, now grown, is an attorney in a small law firm in New Bern, NC. The newest member of the firm, his partners load all the scut work and research on him. Parker occasionally has brilliant insights that have helped the partners win cases. On one case in particular, Parker urges Greg, the senior partner, to keep a particular juror—a pretty, blonde photographer, Layla Donovan. That instinct served them well and Parker is intrigued. When he runs into her at a friend’s wedding—he attending, she taking pictures—he decides to pursue the interest. Greg decides to invite premier attorney, Thomas Blocker, to work with them on a case where their expertise is lacking. Blocker agrees only if his contact at the firm is Parker. Parker learns to his chagrin that Blocker is Layla’s father. The cases proceed as does Thomas’s interest in Layla—and Blocker’s interest in Parker. The characters are well-written, the story proceeds in deliberate order, and we learn about and come to care for Frank and Parker and Layla. The descriptions are apt but not excessive and the action intriguing. You’ll enjoy the development of the story and the characters. Four stars. Robert Whitlow is a multi-published author, who writes legal fiction set in the South. He won a Christy Award for Contemporary Fiction. He received his JD from the University of Georgia School of Law and was on the staff of the Georgia Law Review. Thomas Nelson gave me a copy of The Witnesses, but I was in no way obligated to write a good review.
Britney_Adams More than 1 year ago
The Witnesses is a meticulous intertwining of past and present! The characterization is strong, and I especially enjoyed Frank House’s journey and the glimpses into his former life as a German soldier. The legal drama of the present-day timeline was interesting and overlapped nicely with the intriguing historical thread. I enjoyed The Witnesses and look forward to reading more from Robert Whitlow. I received a complimentary copy of this book. No review was required, and all thoughts expressed are my own.
Freddikb More than 1 year ago
Attorney Parker House is on the rise. He faces a big career break, all while dealing with what his grandfather thought had stayed in the past. Now, with the past coming back, it puts both men in danger. I had a very difficult time getting into this book. I enjoy mystery and intrigue for sure, anyone who knows me can agree with that, but this story was a bit beyond my usual. I gave it a try. “Never judge a book by its cover”, right? However, I just couldn’t continue reading it. I could not get into the story and stay. There was something about it I could not connect with. It did not catch my attention. Unfortunately, this book ended up in the Did Not Finish pile. *I received this book free from Fiction Guild and Thomas Nelson in exchange for my honest review. What I have expressed are entirely my own thoughts*
Glorysong2 More than 1 year ago
Robert Whitlow delivers a powerful message of love and forgiveness in this book. A young lawyer meets a photographer who intrigues him. That man's grandfather had been int he German army during WWII, but deserted to Switzerland before the war's end. Flashbacks tell the reader what occurred in Germany to the grandfather. Through good preaching and counseling, he finds a way to forgive himself.
GailHollingsworth More than 1 year ago
This is my first novel that I've read by Robert Whitlow and I throughly enjoyed it. It covered some scenes from WWII as well as current day. Frank is the grandfather that served in the German Army during WWII, and Parker, the grandson, who is an up and coming lawyer. Frank spends lots of time reliving the war in his mind. He is troubled by actions he took and their consequences. He has the uncanny ability to see some things that happen in the future. He keeps his thoughts to himself as he interacts with his grandson Parker and his fishing buddy Lenny. Parker seems to have also inherited some of his grandfather's ability maybe as intuition of some sorts. This story took on a life of its own as I read, almost like actually being there. The detail of the scenery was perfect. I could feel the fishing boat moving under me, smell the fish, the salt air, an exhilarating experience! I also envisioned the office building where Parker basically "served" his bosses. He developed an unusual friendship with a jury forewomen, Layla, that became more complicated as time went on. All in all this was a captivating story that kept my attention all the way through. It's not normally a book I might have picked up on my own but a recommendation that "if you like John Grishom" you'll like this novel had me intrigued. I received a copy of this book from the Fiction Guild and was not required to give a review, positive or otherwise.
SemmieWise More than 1 year ago
** “Guilt comes in many different shapes and forms. It has a thousand faces but only one solution, the blood of Jesus and the grace available through his sacrifice on the cross. … It also demonstrates the seriousness of our problem and the depth of God’s love in providing a solution for it.” ** Robert Whitlow offers a great legal thriller with a supernatural twist in “The Witnesses.” Following the stories of Franz Haus, now 82-year-old retired fisherman Frank House, and his grandson, Parker, the story weaves back and forth between the two men, as well as between Frank’s past and present. As a young man, Frank used his special ability to see into the future to help the German forces during World War II. Eventually he struggles with his role in the war — and who he’s helping versus who he’s hurting — that he deserts, eventually immigrating to America. Parker is a young attorney trying to make his mark in the legal world. He doesn’t quite understand the special ability of “hunches” that seems to help his legal decision-making. But along the way he meets lovely photographer Layla and her powerhouse attorney father. “The Witnesses” is an amazing tale of accepting the gifts God has given you, and using them to the best of your ability and using them for good. It is also a story of dealing with guilt and its long-term weight — and the ability to seek after and accept forgiveness and grace. It is also a tale of love — love for and from God, familial love, and the growing love between Parker and Layla. Fans of John Grisham or Randy Singer will love “The Witnesses,” which also seems like a cross between a Grisham and Stephen King novel in the secular world, or if Singer met Ted Dekker in the Christian fiction realm. “The Witnesses” is another great Whitlow novel! Five stars out of five. Thomas Nelson provided this complimentary copy for my honest, unbiased review.
MichelleKrim More than 1 year ago
This was a creative plot that featured a dual timeline, in the present day and in WWII Germany. For me, that was the best part of the book. I thought the legal side was well written with enough details to clarify things but not bogging the story down with too much legal talk. That being said, I didn't care for the author's writing style. It felt too amateurish. Multiple times he used wording such as 'The phone rang. It was so-and-so.' It left me feeling disconnected from the action. All in all, a bit of a disappointment for me, because the story had such potential. I'd love to see what could be done by adding a co-author to improve on the writing side a bit. Recommendation: Legal thrillers aren't my usual genre, but I'd recommend this book to those fans. Again, the plot was interesting and kept my attention, but the writing style could've used a little improvement. I'd probably give the author another chance and read more of his work. Rating: 3/5 stars I received a copy of this book from the Thomas Nelson Fiction Guild. This review is my honest opinion.
Theresa_Shell More than 1 year ago
Parker House is a young attorney in North Carolina, with the gift of extraordinary intuition, which often comes in seeing glimpses of the future. His German grandfather, Frank, shares this same gift, which he had used during the Holocaust in regrettable ways. Wartime secrets begin to surface as Parker grapples between progressing his career and finding love, and Frank struggles through deeper issues of faith, repentance, and releasing guilt for his past mistakes. I enjoyed the legal–courtroom drama–aspects of this book, as well as the characters. I thought Frank and Layla were especially well developed, complex characters; and I loved the flashbacks into Frank’s life during the war. However, the pace of the narrative was too slow in many places, with the major theme of the supernatural abilities not directly coming out until the middle of the novel. I also did not like the ending, as I felt the atrocities of the Holocaust (while alive and burdensome in Frank’s mind) were overall downplayed, and not dealt with appropriately or fully. The ending also felt predictable and abrupt to me. I would consider reading this author again, but did not enjoy this book. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson.
BrittanyMc More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this legal drama. It was not a fast-moving ride, rather a slow and steady progression throughout the novel. I liked that there was a dual timeline that involved the present (or recent present of 2003) as well as frequent treks into the past. In this way, I was able to see what happened through the eyes of Franz Haus, a German soldier with an uncanny ability. I enjoyed both timelines, but found the portions in the past to be very interesting. The Witnesses was not a story with a lot of action and heavy suspense. Instead, there was a general feeling of concern that threaded its way through the novel as events began to unfold that made it clear that someone was looking into Franz Haus and his past. Although I felt that the resolution of this possible threat was a bit quick, I still was ultimately satisfied with the outcome. The salvation message and the truth of God’s forgiveness were clear in the story and both were woven in very nicely. The Witnesses would be good reading for those who enjoy legal dramas and a bit of World War II history. I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
EpicFehlReader More than 1 year ago
2.5 Stars I felt myself most drawn to Frank's parts of the story. While Parker and his lady friend Layla were entertaining enough, Frank's tale kept me the most engaged throughout the novel. Though his part gets a bit heavy, I couldn't help but be pulled into that World War 2 timeframe. As for being a courtroom drama though, I didn't find this novel terribly exciting. If you're hoping to go into this story for high intensity courtroom brawls, I found this one lacking on that front. Most of the "action" is made up of pre-trial interviews and discussions about filing paperwork. I don't work in law but I suspect that in reality much of a day's work is made up of the mundane, but when it comes to fictionalizing it, a reader tends to want the nitty gritty heated courtroom battles. Also, those two storylines -- the present mixed with the WW2 flashbacks -- for me, until I got to the closing chapters of the novel I felt like the ties between Parker's past and struggles and Frank's were pretty tenuous. I was also a bit confused with the premonition "gift", as it was often referred to... I didn't see it in Parker as much. The back cover synopsis says that Parker seems to have gotten his gift passed down from Frank but with both of them I felt like Whitlow didn't quite go far enough with the idea. Rather than something mystical, magical, etc. ... to me, it really just felt like people working off of a basic gut instinct. Umm, pretty much everyone has that "gift" if they're just even remotely in tune with their mind / body connection. No big mystery, really. So I thought that aspect could've been played up a lot more. Final verdict -- courtroom / legal drama just so-so for me. What kept me reading was Frank's history as well as the friendship and banter between him and his fishing buddy, Lenny. I thought Lenny seemed like a pretty cool guy. The front cover of this book claims this is great for fans of John Grisham novels. Fair enough. I can back that, but I still find this one secondary to any Grisham I've delved into ... so maybe check it out when you've gone through all of Grisham's catalogue and need something more of the genre. FTC Disclaimer: TNZ Fiction Guild kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book with a request that I might check it out and share my thoughts. The opinions above are entirely my own.
susanwalkergirl More than 1 year ago
I’ve read some of Robert Whitlow’s previous books and was thrilled at the opportunity to read his newest release, The Witnesses. While reading this book, I was reminded why Robert Whitlow is one of my favorite authors. This man is a gifted storyteller and he knows how to weave a story together with intrigue, mystery and characters you want to get to know better. The Witnesses tells the story of two generations of the House family. Frank is from Germany, a former Nazi and grandfather to Parker who is an attorney in a small town in North Carolina. Both men have a unique gift that they can use for good or evil. How will Frank reconcile his past participation in unimaginable horrors? Will he ever find rest and peace for his soul? Parker’s career is just beginning, he’s the new man on the totem and working long hours. How long will he have to wait to sink his teeth into some weighty cases and prove himself as an attorney? As the storyline develops, Robert slowly unveils the characters, layer by layer. He has keen, thought provoking and honest insights into people and their circumstances. His characters are very relatable. I especially liked the relationships: between Frank and Parker and their love and respect for one another, the friendship between Frank and his longtime friend Lenny and the instantaneous bond between Layla and Frank. As a Christian, I appreciate how Robert weaves the Christian faith into his character’s lives. He did a great job in presenting the Gospel message and showing the Christian faith lived out in everyday life. I would never have guessed that I would like a story that involves a former Nazi, much less like the character; but I did. This book is well written, with interesting characters that will draw you in. I found myself thinking about the characters when I wasn’t reading, they kind of come alive. One thing I love about a book is when a character perfectly expresses what you’ve been feeling, but didn’t quite know how to put into words. I highly recommend The Witnesses by Robert Whitlow, a tale of two men who have a unique gift of seeing what will happen in the future. One man is looking back on a life with some very ugly sins he can’t seem to get away from and the other just starting his career. Will he put his career over and above love? To find out what happens in the lives of these men you will want to read The Witnesses by Robert Whitlow. I would like to thank BookLook and Thomas Nelson Publishers for providing me a free copy The Witnesses by Robert Whitlow. I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.
THersh27 More than 1 year ago
Parker House has a very close relationship with his grandfather, Frank House. He shares a special talent with his grandfather in that they both are able to see future events. This talent has been haunting Frank House for years ever since the war. When Parker gets a new job at a new law firm, Frank is forced to come face to face with his past. Will Frank be able to move on from his past? It took me a long time to get into this story, but when I finally did it was a good read. It was hard for me at first to go back and forth between the characters and the different time periods throughout the book. The characters were very well developed and had their own flaws, and were pretty relatable. This was a different type of read than I’m used to, but I would definitely recommend it to others who like a little suspense with some romance thrown in. **I received this book free through the Fiction Guild program. I was not required to write a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
SeasonsofGrace More than 1 year ago
When I started this book, I was intrigued with the story. Then it suddenly changed, so I was a bit skeptic; but when it all tied together, it made perfect sense. I was totally into the story by about a quarter of the way through and didn't want to put this book down. I found myself reading every spare minute I could find, and didn't want to put it down. The plot was a unique blend of past WWII history and the modern day, in which a grandfather and his grandson share a special gift. The grandfather, who had fought in WWII, battles the memories that keep coming to mind of the war and the choices that he made. Things he had long since buried and hadn't thought about in years. His grandson, an upcoming new lawyer, struggles with his sense of duty, a gift he hasn't quite grasped the value of and some really tough choices he is about to be faced with. For me, the book was a somewhat emotional read, yet, suspenseful, with a hint of budding romance (not the over-the-top gushy kind). There's challenge and mystery, faith and forgiveness, and some great fishing! This was the first time I have read this author, and I was impressed with his ability to incorporate passages of Scripture right into the story without it coming across as preachy. It's moving, inspirational, and has a skillful flow. It encourages heritage, legacy, and integrity. I would eagerly read another book by this author. This one was provided for me by Fiction Guild in exchange for my honest review. I am not required to review it positively or otherwise compensated for my opinion.
Jennybug52 More than 1 year ago
3.5 stars- This latest suspense novel by Robert Whitlow tells the story of WWII veteran Frank House and his grandson Parker House, an up and coming new lawyer. Frank lives with the regrets of his wartime past and his ongoing struggle of how to deal with the choices he made when he was young. Parker is striving to establish himself in the world of law. It is soon apparent that Parker shares his grandfather’s strange ability to see future events. Suddenly, the past intersects with the present and upsets the worlds of both Parker and Frank. I enjoyed this story. I admit that I had a difficult time getting into the story at first. I didn’t feel connected to the characters through the first ¼ of the book and found the dialogue somewhat stilted and dry. But as I kept reading I slowly found myself drawn into the story and felt more connected to Frank, Parker and Layla, especially Frank. I loved that Parker called him Opa. The endearment just made Frank seem more real somehow. My verdict is still out on my thoughts of the whole “see the future” ability though. I still think that was a bit weird, although it would certainly be a very cool ability to have. I came away from the story with the thought that each of us has different gifts and talents that we can choose to use to further God’s kingdom or misguidedly use to do the opposite. And that God will forgive us for misusing those gifts if we are willing to ask for His forgiveness. I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Parker House is an attorney who shares his German grandfather's uncanny ability to see future events in his mind's eye. Parker tries to navigate the intrigue and politcs of small-town courtroom law, Frank, his grandfather is forced to face his darkest regrests. Sudden peril threatens Frank and Parker and his new life and love. A good book with several twists and turns.
LucyMR1 More than 1 year ago
What a pleasant surprise this book was, as I usually do not read legal thrillers. Robert Whitlow has a way with words that draws you in and keeps you reading every spare moment to see the outcome. The characters are vivid and identifiable. I love how smoothly the story switches from past to present and how you feel like you are there. The author deals with the atrocities of war in a delicate way and Faith is apparent throughout. ❤️❤️❤️❤️ I received a copy of The Witnesses from Thomas Nelson & Zondervan Fiction Guild for an honest review and I have done that..
LucyMR1 More than 1 year ago
What a pleasant surprise this book was, as I usually do not read legal thrillers. Robert Whitlow has a way with words that draws you in and keeps you reading every spare moment to see the outcome. The characters are vivid and identifiable. I love how smoothly the story switches from past to present and how you feel like you are there. The author deals with the atrocities of war in a delicate way and Faith is apparent throughout. ❤️❤️❤️❤️ I received a copy of The Witnesses from Thomas Nelson & Zondervan Fiction Guild for an honest review and I have done that..
Davisc More than 1 year ago
Robert Whitlow’s The Witnesses is a fascinating story of intrigue, mystery, and grace. I have never read a book quite like The Witnesses, but I hope to read many more. I thoroughly enjoyed this read. Germany 1939 Franz Haus. German WWII officer. “To reveal the unseen, to protect the fatherland, was a noble calling,” Franz truly believed this. Others seemed to have different plans for him and when he finds that his family is dead, Franz knows he can stay no longer. He deserts to Switzerland. Nearly sixty years later we find Parker House, associate attorney for a small firm in New Bern, North Carolina. Parker is helping his boss select possible jurors for the case their firm is trying in court. Layla Donovan is one of the possible jurors that Parker believes should be on the jury. She is a photographer. He cannot say why she should be on the jury, only that he knows she should be there. Parker and his grandfather Frank share an unusual gift, a strange inheritance. Frank still has nightmares because of his, but Parker is not yet completely aware of his gift and how to use it. When I first began reading The Witnesses, I was not sure that I liked Frank or Parker, but I could not stop reading. Whitlow offers his story in nibbles. The nibbles are so tasty, I could not stop reading. It is like a fine piece of chocolate. I savor each bite as I go, but I don’t stop until it is all gone. I had to keep reading to find out why Frank was having nightmares and what Parker was going to do with his inheritance. What I enjoyed the most about this book was the way my compassion for Frank and Parker grew. At first, I was not sure I even liked either of them, but by the end I found myself rooting for them every step of the way. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone that enjoys mystery, intrigue and suspense stories. I received a copy of this book from The Fiction Guild in exchange for an honest review.
beachbumRM More than 1 year ago
This book started out in Germany during the Second World War. I thought it started out kinda slow but once I got into the story it picked up. This book shows how God's hand works in mysterious ways and that, according to Frank, forgiveness is an "undeserved gift". I received a copy of this book from the publisher for my honest opinion. This review is my own opinion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story flashes back to a grandfather who was a German soldier during WWII and his present day life as a fisherman with secrets. A war crime involving him has come back to haunt him and could cause his death. A love interest involving his grandson, a lawyer, is also a part of the story. This book includes secrets, mystery, love and forgiveness of ones self.