Forgiving Maximo Rothman

Written by A.J. Sidransky
Review by Bryan Dumas

Anatoly Kurchenko is a detective in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood – a community that straddles two cultures: One Jewish, one Dominican – and they both share a little- known connection. His name is Max Redmond (Rothman) and he’s been murdered. Kurchenko is assigned to sniff out the criminal and finds himself at odds with both communities. What he learns in the investigation, through Rothman’s diaries, is that Redmond had escaped Hitler’s persecution and settled at a refuge in the Dominican Republic. As he digs deeper in the diaries, Kurchenko finds the words to help him come to terms with who he is, his own Russian Jewish heritage, and his own future.

Forgiving Maximo Rothman is both a murder-mystery and historical fiction. If you are looking for a murder-mystery that will keep you guessing, this is not it. I had a pretty good sense of the killer within the first seventy-five pages. What this book is a fascinating look at is a part of the Holocaust survivor’s story that very few people know and understand: The role the Dominican Republic played in saving European Jews from Hitler’s plans. Sidransky’s strength is in retelling the struggles, hopes, and lives in the agricultural community of Sousa, DR. Redmond’s diary sections of the book stand out for their tenderness, heartbreak, and resilience. The books spans nearly sixty-five years, from World War II to 2005 and three continents and, yet, Sidransky maintains a strong storyline and pacing that keeps the reader engaged throughout.