Max’s Diamonds: A Novel. Jay Greenfield. Chickadee Prince Books. May 2016. 344 pp. ISBN #: 9780991327423.
Paul Hartman, his parents and many in their family are refugees from the hell created by Adolf Hitler. In short, they are Holocaust survivors! Think you’ve heard it all before! Stop in your tracks – you haven’t! Jay Greenfield’s first novel is reality. The appearance of Paul’s Uncle Max is a life-changing event for Paul. Two aspects of Uncle Max’s life remain with Paul forever, the numbers etched into Uncle Max’s arm and the diamonds Uncle Max owns and spreads throughout the family. These items are evidence of the worst kind of evil one can imagine! They permeate the family with guilt as survivors and victims who deserve more of life’s wealth because of what they have endured. In between these searing scenes are moments of intense beauty which Paul and his girlfriend, and later wife, find in playing music. Should one play Wagner, the enemy of the Jews, to show all that Jews survived and are now their own masters? Yes, Wagner, the music that was played when selections were daily made of who was to go to the gas chambers. The novel is replete with decisions of a like-minded nature!
For Paul, it seems for every few steps he moves ahead in his career and family life he must take multiple steps backwards laced with shared guilt and moral obligations. As the story progresses, we learn how Max acquired those diamonds in the concentration camp and what he did with them. Harrowing story, indeed!
Paul becomes a lawyer whose State Supreme Court clerkship becomes compromised because of his family background. On and on the same stop-and-go scenes follow, eventually causing the failure of two marriages, barriers with relatives because of a deed Paul committed after meeting Max and before Max’s death. All his relationships become tainted and the reader can empathize with his frustration and desire to get it all healed and behind, if that is possible at all!
Max’s Diamonds… is a startling, riveting work of historical fiction that each reader may never forget. It’s a thriller spawned by an evil reality of one man but passing on to all the victims tied into that evil man’s existence!
Amazing read that this reviewer highly recommends!