Review

The 6th Lamentation

by William Brodrick



There are a chosen few in this world blessed with the talent to
craft a good story. William Brodrick has not only the talent but
also a graceful way with a pen. While this is his first book, he
writes with the polish of a veteran author and brings his readers a
story filled with tragedy, love, redemption and forgiveness. His
background as an Augustinian friar lends his prose a certain
beauty, and his current persona as a lawyer infuses his tale with
high intrigue. He spends the first half of the book slowly building
the framework of an intricate mystery, then deliciously unravels it
piece by piece in the second half. His pace is measured --- so much
so that the urge to look ahead was almost irresistible. But that
would spoil the surprises.

Agnes Aubret survived the German occupation of Paris in 1942. She
survived the death camp and its aftermath. Now she is dying ---
unfairly, she believes --- of a disease that will take her quickly
from her family. She remembers one man from her horrific past who
she has waited a lifetime to see account for his crimes. As her
time nears an end, she notices him on the television news. To her
horror, she realizes he has sought sanctuary at nearby Lakewood
Priory. She is stunned and wants answers. But she has precious
little time.

Lakewood's Father Anselm, barrister turned monk, is asked to handle
the delicate situation for the church. The church, it is feared,
will be set in a bad light if the Nazi now living within the
monastery walls is guilty of the allegations. The monk tracks down
leads all over England, and some in France, trying to sort out the
truth. It is elusive, however, and often appearances are deceiving.
In fact, most of the characters are not what --- or who --- they
initially seemed to be.

While Father Anselm works to uncover the truth, Agnes's
granddaughter Lucy is doing a little investigating of her own.
Agnes has recounted her awful history, telling Lucy about The Round
Table, a group formed to smuggle Jewish children to safety in
Switzerland, and about its ultimate demise. Someone within the
small organization betrayed them. Agnes always thought she knew who
it was. But maybe she was wrong. Lucy's love for her grandmother
thrusts her into a fervid hunt to find out what really happened, so
Agnes can die in the peace that has eluded her for so long.

Nearly overflowing with characters, THE 6TH LAMENTATION keeps its
readers rapt with personalities in addition to action. Aside from
Father Anselm, the monks are all distinct individuals, rich with
quirky behaviors and odd traits. The cast from Agnes's time in
Paris comes alive with their own pasts and motives. The face of
evil fades with the years, blurring the hatred that once resided
there. Fifty years later, an old man standing before his accusers
simply looks frail, not like a murderous barbarian. But who is he
inside?

Brodrick handles an ugly subject with just the right mix of disgust
and gentleness. He blends the utter repulsiveness of that hideous
time in history with the compassion due the victims and their
families. The wronged are well treated by this author. The guilty
are given little sympathy. While Brodrick claims this is a novel,
it reads like nonfiction --- fast and true. This is a dazzling
debut.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on January 23, 2011

The 6th Lamentation
by William Brodrick

  • Publication Date: July 27, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics)
  • ISBN-10: 0142004626
  • ISBN-13: 9780142004623