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The Golden Door

by Charles B Nam

      Several people are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their relations from Eastern Europe when the ship S S Netherlands arrives at Ellis Island. But as the passengers stream off the boat, where are Julius Newman, Abraham Solomon, and Rivka Borchowitz? They are listed as having died on voyage, but did they perish from cholera, or some more sinister cause? Their distraught families are determined to discover what happened, and even hire an immigration lawyer, which results in a court hearing. This is their story, and that of their dead relations.

The image of the Statue of Liberty welcoming the "huddled masses" to the Land of the Free is a powerful one, and is the recurring thread through the book. It is more than just another whodunit; it is a story about the plight of Jews in Eastern Europe and their lives in New York. Much of the book - which is short and to the point - recreates the lives of the three casualties in Europe, leading up to their embarking on the ship. They are not just seen as parts of a puzzle to be solved, but real people with histories, hopes and passions. This makes their plight all the more real-seeming, and has the reader keen for justice as well as the fact that we donít know whodunit until the end of the book. It is always good to read something a bit different, and this is sure to appeal to anybody who says that genre fiction is too samey.

The Book

October 2006
Paperback (also available as an ebook)
ISBN-13: 9780595396504
ISBN-10: 059539650X
Historical Crime - 1893, New York and various East European locations
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2006
© 2006