The year is 1882. A young servant girl named Esther disappears from a small Hungarian village. Several Jewish men from the village of Tisza Eszvar face the ‘blood libel’ — the centuries-old belief that Jews murder Christian children for their blood. A fourteen-year-old Jewish boy named Morris Scharf becomes the star witness of corrupt authorities who coerce him into testifying against his fellow Jews, including his own father, at the trial.
This fictionalized account of one of the last blood libel trial in Europe is told through the eyes of Julie, a friend of the murdered Esther, and a servant at the jail where Morris is imprisoned. Julie is no stranger to suffering herself: abused by her alcoholic father and separated from her beloved baby sister, she is as bound up in the tragedy of the times as is Morris. The book is based upon a real court case that took place in Hungary in 1883. In Hungary today, the name Morris Scharf has become synonymous with “traitor.”
Peter Liebig can’t wait for summer. He’s tired of classrooms, teachers, and the endless lectures about the horrible Nazis. The war has been over for ten years, and besides, his town of Rolfen, West Germany, has moved on nicely. Despite its bombed-out church, it looks just as calm and pretty as ever. There is money to be made at the beach, and there are whole days to spend with Father at his job. And, of course, there’s soccer. Plenty for a thirteen-year-old boy to look forward to. But when Peter stumbles across a letter he was never meant to see, he unravels a troubling secret. Soon he questions everything—the town’s peaceful nature, his parents’ stories about the war, and his own sense of belonging.