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The Burden of Guilt – Reviews

Metroland Media Review – by Glenn Perrett

By Richard K. Bercuson and E. W. Zrudlo

Jekat Publishing, 2023, 235 pagesISBN: 9780980961348

“The Burden of Guilt” is a riveting novel pertaining to a Nazi war criminal, the French Resistance and a Canadian hockey coach preparing to coach a team in Paris.

Set in Paris in 1980, the fascinating story follows David Benson who has travelled to Paris to coach hockey. His arrival occurs just after Erhardt Geinz – an alleged war criminal – has been captured in Canada and extradited to France to stand trial for executing a French Resistance hero, among other crimes.

Helping in the Geinz investigation was David’s father, Frederick Benson, who had worked with the Special Operations Executive during the war, locating escaped war criminals. A month earlier, while in France, David’s father was killed in an apparent traffic accident. But was it an accident? He was sent by the RCMP to learn more about Geinz when he was killed during his investigation.

While preparing for his trip to France, David decides to include a folder of his father’s that he recently found. Inside the file are some of his father’s items from the war including a diary, photos and a loose page torn from a German ledger book. Before leaving for his coaching job, David learns more about his father’s death and the extradition of the Nazi war criminal.

Once in France, David realizes that his father’s war items that he brought are sought after by others. And they will do whatever is necessary to get them. As David prepares for his coaching job, he becomes involved with France’s Nazi war criminal extradition case – a case that involved his father until he was killed.

“The Burden of Guilt” is a fascinating mystery about the French Resistance, a 1944 prison escape and the consequences that are still occurring four decades later.

Reviews on Amazon:

“Spellbinding – A well written, interesting book you won’t be able to put it down”

“Well written, intriguing story.”

“I enjoyed the different characters and the way they were all brought together to solve the mystery.”

“A page-turner – This story had me guessing until the last page. You won’t want to put it down once you start.”

“I got this book on the recommendation of a friend and was not disappointed. It grabbed my attention immediately. The two main characters were likeable and believable. The plot was well crafted and kept me guessing throughout, with twists and turns aplenty. The ending was a surprise ! An endearing aspect of the book was the inclusion of seemingly commonplace occurrences/musings that allowed the reader to bond with the protagonists.”

“If you like a fast paced story of intrigue, this is a good bet. A young man gets caught up in events from the past that threaten his present and his future. In taking on the responsibility of a new coaching job, he also chooses to take on a much different responsibility that leads not only to his life being threatened but also his budding romance. Who is the WWII French collaborator that everyone wants to know the identity of but no one wants to be made public? Will the extradited Nazi reveal that person? I loved the way the authors wove the intrigue of who’s guilty and who’s innocent in 1980s Paris and the young man’s struggles to find a decent place to live, a great combination of the ordinariness of life with the extraordinary. The pace of the story is relentless and though the obvious moral and philosophical issues are touched on they don’t get in the way of the action. I especially enjoyed the occasional bits of humor to help break the tension. This is a good story and a good debut novel by the authors. When they write another one, I’ll be first in line to buy it.”