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Book Author: Leonard Rosen

THE TENTH WITNESS by Leonard Rosen: Book Review

Leonard Rosen is now two for two.  The Tenth Witness is a masterful follow-up to his debut novel, All Cry Chaos (reviewed on this blog).

The Tenth Witness, a prequel, opens with a prologue by the protagonist, Henri Poincare.  In All Cry Chaos he was a man approaching retirement, an inspector with Interpol.  In The Tenth Witness he is a young consulting engineer, a partner in the firm of Poincare & Chin, called in 1978 to oversee extracting gold from outdated computers for Kraus Steel, a global steel manufacturer.  The story is told in a single flashback.

Almost from his introduction to the Kraus family, Henri experiences split emotions.  He is immediately attracted to Liesel Kraus, who handles the publicity and charitable giving for the business’ foundation.  And he likes her brother Anselm and Anselm’s wife and young children.  But he is disturbed, unnerved, by meeting the original co-partner in Kraus Steel and now Anselm’s father-in-law, Viktor Schmidt.  Henri doesn’t know quite why, at least not yet.

Liesel Kraus makes no secret of how the family got started during the Hitler era.  Her father was a member of the Nazi party and ran his steel mills with slave labor.  But like Oskar Schindler, Liesel tells Henri, he saved people’s lives.  And when the war trials began, ten Kraus Steel laborers came forward and signed an affidavit in her father’s favor.  But still, she admits, “My father wore a swastika lapel pin.”

Henri travels with Viktor to see a facility the company owns in Hong Kong.  Viktor explains that when the ship is broken apart, every section of it is remade by the steel mill–pipes, wires, furniture–and reused.  The profits are enormous.  But what Henri sees are the incredibly dangerous conditions, conditions that never would be allowed in Europe.  He leaves Hong Kong with the thought that he doesn’t want to do business with the Kraus company, regardless of the profits that his engineering firm would make.  But when he sees Liesel again he changes his mind, and he accepts the commission.  And so Henri becomes involves with the Kraus family, their business and their secrets.

Just in case the readers are thinking that the Nazis were a special group of vermin, that other people didn’t do those things/have those kind of thoughts, Leonard Rosen sets them straight.  There are two scenes in the book that are so realistic, taking place more than two decades after the war, as to be unbearably painful.

In the first, after Henri has basically uncovered most of the dirty history of the Kraus Steel company, he and Liesel are outside a church when confronted by a Gypsy woman and her child who are begging for coins.  Liesel gives the child a coin, but Henri brushes past the woman and child.  He thinks to himself, A whole (expletive deleted) of cows.  He washes the sleeve where the Gypsy touched him, and then he understands what he was thinking.

I’ll leave the second scene, equally disturbing, for you to discover.

No such thing as a sophomore slump when it comes to Leonard Rosen’s second novel.  The writing is outstanding, clear and crisp, and the author holds your attention from the first page to the last.  The characters are real, and the decisions they make about life and business are real also.  Do not miss reading The Tenth Witness.

You can read more about Leonard Rosen at his web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Reads blog at this web site.

ALL CRY CHAOS by Leonard Rosen: Book Review

A great novelist is like a magician with words. He or she can make you care deeply about the characters in a book, even though you know that these characters aren’t real.  You’re made to laugh, cry, sympathize with or despise the people in books, even when your mind is telling you it’s “just a story.”

Leonard Rosen’s fiction debut, All Cry Chaos, is an amazing novel. It brings together the worlds of mass murderers, mathematical geniuses, combative indigenous protestors, Interpol detectives, and Christian believers in the End of Days, and all these worlds fit together perfectly.  That’s quite a talent.

Henri Poincare is an inspector with Interpol.  Two years before the opening of this novel he was the man who brought Stipo Banovic, a Bosnian convicted of murdering seventy-seven Muslim men and boys during the ethnic wars in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, to justice.  In the years after that conflict Stipo had evaded arrest, married, and fathered two children.  When Henri visits him in prison, Stipo threatens him and his family.  “You will walk in my shoes,” he tells the inspector.

Henri has been assigned to a new case, a bombing in Amsterdam. A single room in a hotel was blown up, and the only victim was an American mathematician from Harvard, James Fenster.  There are two strange things about the explosion.  First is the fact that only this single room was damaged, lifted from its surroundings as if by a giant hand; second is the fact that the propellant was rocket fuel, an unusual ingredient in the making of a bomb when there are other ingredients that are more easily obtainable.

James Fenster was working on the chaos theory.  According to Margaret Rouse, editorial director of, chaos theory is the study of nonlinear dynamics, in which seemingly random events are actually predictable from simple deterministic equations.   Please don’t ask me more than that, but apparently everything in the universe is related.  And this has huge implications in our world where economics, mathematics, science, and business all intersect.

When Henri first interviews Madeleine Rainier, who is also staying in Amsterdam, she tells him that she and James were engaged but the engagement was broken off a few weeks earlier; she refuses to say by whom.  The next day Henri discovers that Madeleine, who was named in James’ will as next-of-kin, has already cremated his body, and when he returns to her hotel to question her further, he finds she has left with no forwarding address.

At the same time, two other events of major importance are happening in Amsterdam. The World Trade Organization is meeting in the city and security is at an all-time high.  The head of the Indigenous Liberation Front, Eduardo Quito, has brought thousands of followers to confront the WTO leaders.  A brilliant economist and academician, his political and human rights movement hopes to force the rich nations of the world to share their wealth.

Also in Amsterdam are the Rapturians, an evangelical Christian cult that is counting the weeks to the End of Days. In their philosophy, Jesus will return when the world is in complete chaos.   They are working to bring that time closer, orchestrating murders and bombings around the world.

All Cry Chaos brings these disparate characters and groups together, plus others.  Leonard Rosen makes us care about them, even perhaps understand them, from Henri to the most minor characters. He even makes the reader care about the chaos theory.

You can read more about Leonard Rosen at his web site.