Warburg in Rome

Houghton Harcourt. Jul. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780547738901. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780547738956. F
Former priest Carroll (An American Requiem) returns with this complex and compelling novel of the Vatican and morality during World War II. The happenings here are dark indeed, and it's often difficult to believe that the novel is based on real-life events. Lawyer David Warburg comes to Rome to help set up and direct the new U.S. War Refugee Board, an effort that aims to help European Jews rebuild their lives as the war comes to a close. In the course of his humanitarian work, he meets Marguerite d'Erasmo, a Red Cross worker who is motivated by much more than meets the eye. Soon David learns of the Vatican ratline, a system that the Church used to smuggle Nazi war criminals to safety in Argentina. No longer sure whom to trust, he turns to U.S. Intelligence, only to find that the ratline isn't much of a secret after all.
VERDICT This is a fresh look at a scandalous chapter of history, and one that reminds us that even when the war was over, the horrors were not. Sensitive readers should beware, as there are some graphic and extremely unsettling scenes. This book deserves a wide readership, and should especially appeal to readers interested in political and religious history. [See Prepub Alert, 1/26/14; academic and library marketing.]
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