Old thrillers are great. I spent the first part of this book thinking it was written by the same guy who wrote Lord of the Flies and expected the book to take that kind of a turn eventually. It doesn’t, it is a pretty straightforward tale of a guy caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, with secret family history that he discovers once it is nearly too late. The main character, a genius Jewish marathon trainer is likable and interesting. He has some weird unbelievable character traits [what Jew has never heard of mengele, honestly?] but his interactions with his mentor professor at the beginning of the book are some of the strongest writing in it.
Then things start to go badly for our hero and many people if they know anything about this story know about the infamous “dentist” scene which is the worst torture anyone can conceive of. Personally, I think this is easier to deal with when you read it in a book then when you are forced to see it on the big screen; it’s really a small part of this novel.