The Sixth Man
The Sixth Man is the story of six imprisoned Frenchmen during WWII. Initially believing they will be released the next day, they find out that all but one of them will be shot the next morning. The catch? It is up to them to decide who will live, and they only have six hours to do it. One by one, each man confesses his most abhorrent crimes, seeking the solace of forgiveness and, perhaps, a second chance at life.
As I read this book, I was reminded of the stories I had to read in school as an English major—and I mean that as a compliment. Having since rejected most literature in favor of popular fictional entertainment, it has been years since I read a story that not only kept my interest and moved me, but forced me to think about life on a deeper level like this one. The Sixth Man has a strong moral to teach, but does it in such a subtle way that it is almost imperceptible. The writing is spare, but powerful; the story simple, but profound. The only thing that gave me pause was that one of the prisoners knew something secret/shameful about each man that he could use to force that person to confess what they hoped to hide; it came across as slightly too convenient, even in a small town. Nevertheless, I recommend this book.