The Absolution Of Otto Finkel

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
401 Pages
Reviewed on 03/27/2016
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Author Biography

After service in the UK Royal Air Force, John R. McKay worked for seventeen years for Greater Manchester Fire Service as a control room watch manager, before leaving to take up other challenges including writing.
He lives in Wigan in the north west of England with his wife, Dawn, and has two daughters, Jessica and Sophie.
He is a keen football fan and open water scuba diver and has completed four novels, three of which are now available.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Tracy Slowiak for Readers' Favorite

What a fantastic book I just finished! The Absolution of Otto Finkel, the newest book by author John R. McKay, was a book that I simply could not put down once I started it. Following the story of five childhood friends, Jack, Francis, Otto, Jean-Luc and Marco into their adulthood, the story recounts their lives in a poignant and meaningful way throughout war torn Europe. After their shared and traumatic experience in childhood, in which a man dies and Otto ends up physically scarred, their lives will never be the same. And when they become young men, each fighting for their own country in their own way, the most emotionally damaged of the group, Otto, is an SS officer and continues to be haunted by the past. What will happen to this group of childhood friends? You'll need to read the book to find out.

I loved this book. Loved. It. How's that for a review? Well, it's certainly the way I truly felt about The Absolution of Otto Finkel. Author John R. McKay has a real way with words, and has a gift in creating characters that his readers will relate to, connect with and truly care about. His ability to take his readers back to the time period is second to none, and readers will feel as if they can simply slip through the pages into war torn Europe. Any reader who enjoys historical fiction, a great war story, or simply a great read of fiction in general should absolutely grab this book. I highly recommend The Absolution of Otto Finkel, and I look forward to reading more from the very talented author, John R. McKay, as soon as I possibly can!

Gisela Dixon

The Absolution Of Otto Finkel by John R McKay is a historical fiction novel based on historical facts surrounding World War II and the Nazi occupation. Although The Absolution Of Otto Finkel is fictional, some of the characters and events are based on or drawn from similar real events in history. The story primarily revolves around the lives of five young adolescent boys and the paths their lives take as they grow up and face the reality of war and loss of the twentieth century. The novel stars with a gripping opening and then takes us into the past to 1928 in Brittany where teenagers Jack and Francis Graham meet the young teenage German boy, Otto Finkel, for the first time. Together, the boys get into an incident that involves death and disfigurement, and affects some of them for life. Later on, as the horrors of war grip the world, each boy follows his own path and some of these paths lead down the path of destruction toward hatred, torture, concentration camps, and death. Through all of this, old friends meet again and the interwoven nature of these relationships and lives forms the plot of the novel.

The Absolution Of Otto Finkel by John R McKay is set against the background of the events of World War II as well as the pre- and post-war state of nations. This book reminds us that people are not born evil, and there is no such thing as absolute good or evil. Circumstances can take people down unknown paths and that is illustrated clearly in the lives of the central characters, especially Otto. John McKay has written this book with genuine empathy and understanding of human nature, and it held my attention from the first page until the end. A thought-provoking and insightful read.

Sarah Stuart

The Absolution Of Otto Finkel by John R. McKay is a novel in six parts. Part One, comprising twelve short chapters, introduces the reader to five boys aged around twelve years old: two of them British, one German, one French, and one Italian. They meet on holiday in Brittany where an act of misguided mischief results in the drowning of a man and the disfigurement of the German boy, Otto Finkel. Time then moves on and the various sections mainly, but not exclusively, feature the elder of the two English boys, Jack Graham, the ringleader, who commands a platoon of British soldiers eventually en route for Dunkirk; the French boy, Jean-Luc Descartes who is of Jewish descent, a writer with a girlfriend working for the Resistance; and the Italian boy, Marco Roncalli.

John R. McKay opens The Absolution Of Otto Finkel with an intriguing prologue. A nameless man is waiting in the darkness with a loaded gun for someone to arrive. The man who appears is identified only as “the German.” It ends with a powerful hook; it doesn’t reveal if the man actually pulls the trigger. Part one flashes back to the summer of 1928 and five boys who meet on holiday in Brittany. One of them, who has boasted about his skill as a fisherman, is desperate for a big catch. This leads to the five rowing a boat out to sea, being caught in rough water, and the accidental injury of Otto Finkel, who is left with a scarred face for life.

The book is basically Otto's story, but much of it is shown through his companions when they all reach adulthood during WWII. The end brings that story full circle to answer the question posed in the prologue, but that end is impossible to guess; there is a satisfyingly unexpected twist in the tail. The Absolution Of Otto Finkel is a thriller with an enthrallingly different, in-depth take on real events of WWII. It is well-written so readers will empathise easily with all the major characters, especially Otto himself. A fascinating example of in-depth characterisation that appealed to the author in me.