The Aleph Bet Conspiracy by Norman Shabel

It was a bright, pleasant Saturday night filled with Pitkin Avenue strollers in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Morris Singer, an olde orthodox Jew, while walking with his granddaughter is suddenly attacked and beaten to death by a fascist thug with a bat. While his granddaughter is being raped by the murderer, suddenly out of the hazy summer night, a tall, bearded man appears brandishing a thick wooden rod. Waving the rod in the air like a dueling sword, the bearded man beats the murderer to death and throws a business card on the ground. It says, “The Aleph Bet”.

The murder trial of Rabbi Ben Zvi Kantorwicz, the admitted killer of Albert Horst, the fascist thug, was front page news throughout the nation. Defended by his old friend, Hy Levine, the only question for the jury was whether the killing by Ben Zivi Kantrowicz was justified. Not to save his own life, but did the leader of the Aleph Bet have the right to defend another man’s life and to execute punishment to the attacker?


Set in 1960s America, this breakneck historical page-turner takes on the fallout of the Second World War, as a remnant of the defeated Nazis has crept into the United States, with the intent to seize control of the country. Fascist-driven crimes and murders against Jewish people are occurring on American soil, while crowds stand by, silently watching. Enter Aleph Bet, a vigilante Jewish brotherhood, self-described as “an organization born out of the ashes of Auschwitz and committed to the discovery and punishment of all surviving Nazis,” who take the law into their own hands and repay the atrocities being committed against their people.

Rabbi Ben Zvi Kantorwicz, an Auschwitz survivor, is a leader in the Aleph Bet and a legendary protector who’s successfully hunted down each of his targets, save one—a German war colonel named Helmut Mussman, currently headquartered in Denver, Colorado, who’s managed to evade capture and is now driving the attempted takeover of the remnant Nazis. When Ben Zvi finds himself on trial in 1964 for avenging the murder of a Jewish grandfather, his Auschwitz history with Mussman crops up in more ways than one, and Shabel (author of Four Women) expertly bounces the story between the novel’s present timeline and Auschwitz in the 1940s.

The plot brims with twists and conspiracies, delivering fast-paced thrills while wrestling with themes of discrimination and the morality of revenge, as the Aleph Bet leaders seek to answer just how far they should go to protect their own—and when the killing will stop, if ever. Shabel’s experience as an attorney is evident throughout, illuminated in his believable courtroom scenes that are rich with dramatic flair and rhetoric, though the graphic violence and murders are not for the squeamish. For fans of history-driven suspense paired with intense action, this is a gripping read.

Takeaway: Breakneck Naxi-hunting page-turner in the aftermath of World War II.

Comparable Titles: Joseph Kannon’s The Accomplice, Alan Elsner’s The Nazi Hunter.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A