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“Bell masterfully combines his mystery story with an unflinching look at the 20th century’s bleakest tragedies. A beautiful . . . challengingly complex tale of the ramifications of history.” — Kirkus Reviews
“The question of conscience is a matter for the head of thestate”- Adolf Eichmann.
The discovery of a valise of old letters written to his Armenian grandfather from an Auschwitz survivor starts Avi Arutiyan on an odyssey to uncover the mystery surrounding his grandfather’s unsolved death.
From the killing fields of Anatolia to the trial of Adolf Eichmann, Avi’s quest opens a door into intersecting paths and dark secrets of three families, stretching back to 1915.
“Eleos offers no easy answers, no pat approaches. Perhaps this is the novel’s greatest challenge to its readers, as well as its finest attribute. D. R. Bell crafts a set of circumstances that involve the protagonist in a sifting of blame, historical examination, and family attitudes, drawing in readers with a scenario that at first seems relatively black and white; then immersing them in decisions and outcomes that are satisfyingly complex. … Holocausts can happen again, but as long as stories such as Eleos capture the progression of events with an eye to explaining how logic and action led to disaster, future generations at least have a road map to avoid the pitfalls that lead in these directions.”
— Diane Donovan, Donovan’s Literary Services; Editor, California Bookwatch
From the Author
This is not a “feel good” book. The original concept was that of a story of redemption: a German soldier saves a Jewish boy from the slaughter of the Holocaust. This thread is still present in the final version. There are many wonderful stories like that. We love the saviors, such as Oscar Schindler. We despise sadistic murderers like Amon Goeth.
But are we doing ourselves a disservice by viewing past events through these two poles of heroes vs. pathological evildoers? Are we protecting ourselves from the inconvenient truth that most of the perpetrators and enablers were not sadists or psychopaths? They were regular people like you and me. It’s perfectly human to not want to stare into the abyss. Yet the horror repeats time and again: Holocaust was preceded by the Armenian Genocide, and followed by the killing fields of Cambodia, Rwanda, and Bosnia. In the process of writing Eleos, I became obsessed with trying to understand why. Does our unwillingness to look beyond a simple conflict of good vs. evil contributes to this recurrence?
Alas, a satisfying explanation is elusive. Hence the anxiety: more likely than not, it’s bound to happen again. We don’t know where or when. We don’t know which side we’ll be on: the victims, the executioners, the observers? The one thing – perhaps the only thing – that I have learned: it’s not enough to remember what happened, to know the numbers, the events, the places – we mustn’t close our eyes to how it happened. Like the painting of Dorian Gray, it’s the mirror that shows us what’s possible.
Eleos became a story of saviors and murderers, of bystanders and of those that don’t fall into an easy-to-classify category. The book doesn’t accentuate the positive: the only positive one can hope for is to never see such events again. We know some of the things that dwell in the heart of darkness: blind obedience to authority, our collective ability to forget, resentment of ‘the other,’ false patriotism. The worst atrocities were committed under the guise of doing good, in the name of ideology, religion, or national status. How do we immunize ourselves against this? Perhaps naively, I hoped that the book can serve as a reminder to protect our own humanity, because the ultimate battlefield is inside all of us: no authority can absolve us from personal responsibility.
While the characters of the story are fictional, most of the events described took place.
About the Author
D.R. Bell, I didn’t plan to write, I had kind of “fallen” into it. In a way, I feel fortunate to take up writing late in life: since I don’t depend on it for my livelihood, I’m free to write what I want. I don’t target mass audience; if you’re looking for a light read after a hard day at work, you have better options. I want to follow Milan Kundera, one of my favorite writers, in that a “novel is a meditation on existence.” I try to find something meaningful to say and I hope my stories speak to you. To all of you who read my books and left reviews – thank you for your wonderful feedback!
My latest work, Eleos, is a historic fiction set primarily during the time of the Eichmann’s trial. In a way, it’s a personal investigation into how events like the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide become possible.
Marshland is a detective story set in modern Los Angeles, focused on the impact that internet and social media can have on our lives and their potential for unscrupulous abuse by those in power.
The first three books – The Metronome, The Great Game, and The Outer Circle – form a trilogy, where the lives of seemingly unconnected characters intersect against the backdrop of a turbulent power game between United States, China, and Russia. Unfortunately, some of the events described there are now happening in real life.