The Fifth Servant (Paperback)

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January 2010 Indie Next List

“The bloody body of a young girl is found in the shop of a Jewish butcher in medieval Prague. A Talmudic scholar works against a deadline to solve the murder and save his community from annihilation. The Fifth Servant is dense, full of philosophy, history, and the pulse of a community under siege.”
— Becky Milner, Vintage Books, Vancouver, WA


In 1592, Prague is a relatively safe refuge for Jews who live within the gated walls of its ghetto. But the peace is threatened when a young Christian girl is found with her throat slashed in a Jewish shop on the eve of Passover. Charged with blood libel, the shopkeeper and his family are arrested, and all that stands in the way of a rabid Christian mob is a clever Talmudic scholar, newly arrived from Poland, named Benyamin Ben-Akiva. Granted just three days to bring the true killer to justicehampered by rabbinic law, with no allies or connections, and only his wits, knowledge, and faith to guide himBenyamin sets off on a desperate search for answers. Following a twisting trail from the streets to the shul, from the forbidden back rooms of a ghetto brothel to the emperor Rudolf II's lavish palace, he will dare the impossibleand commit the unthinkableto save the Jews of Prague . . . and himself.

About the Author

Kenneth Wishnia has a Ph.D. in comparative literature. His crime fiction has been nominated for the Edgar and Anthony awards. He teaches composition, literature, and creative writing at Suffolk Community College on Long Island, where he lives with his wife and children.

Praise For…

“Whatever you are currently reading, I promise you it is not nearly as intelligent, witty, compelling or entertaining as The Fifth Servant by Kenneth Wishnia....Wishnia makes history come alive.”
-David Liss, author of The Devil's Company and The Whiskey Rebels

“Well-developed characters and detailed portrayals of life at the time help make this historical crime thriller a gripping page-turner.”
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Powerful . . . A densely philosophical yet surprisingly witty historical mystery.”

The Fifth Servant offers a unique blend of mystery and Talmud set against an intriguing historical background.”
-Linda Barnes, author of Lie Down with the Devil

The Fifth Servant proves that academia, wit, and compelling mystery may all be found in one book. And what a suspenseful, enthralling story this is—accessible and hugely entertaining, it is an astonishing novel.”
-Ken Bruen, author of Sanctuary

“The richness of the setting of The Fifth Servant is matched by the complexity and appeal of its characters. With apparent ease Kenneth Wishnia makes solid and real the sounds, sights, and smells of a vanished and legendary time.”
-S.J. Rozan, Edgar Award-winning author of The Shanghai Moon

The Fifth Servant suceeds at its goal: to keep you turning pages, and, when you’re finished, wanting more.”

“This fast-paced historical from Edgar nominee Wishnia (23 Shades of Black ) combines scholarly historical details that bring the 16th century alive with believable characters and a compelling mystery. Highly recommended for mystery lovers and fans of historical fiction. ”
-Library Journal on THE FIFTH SERVANT

“Think Sherlock Holmes with a dash of Woody Allen. Philip Roth and Stephen King. Mystery plus comedy. Detective novel meets Yiddish folk tale. Then add a little history and you have Kenneth Wishnia’s The Fifth Servant, a smart funny page turner that I hated to see end.”
-The Jewish Journal

A brilliantly imagined, beautifully written combination of scrupulously researched historical novel and riveting suspense thriller [with] a uniquely unforgettable protagonist. A richly atmospheric tale of religion, mystery, and intrigue.”
-I Love a Mystery

“In another’s hands, the resulting novel might end up grim and pedantic, but Wishnia manages to turn the story into something Dickensian in its comic turns, richly drawn cast of characters, and plot twists.”
-Historical Novels Review on THE FIFTH SERVANT

“a compelling mystery”
-Albuquerque Journal on THE FIFTH SERVANT

“The characters are distinct and thoughtfully created. The mystery and how it is unraveled make a compelling story.”
-Contra Costa Times on THE FIFTH SERVANT

Product Details
ISBN: 9780061725388
ISBN-10: 0061725382
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Publication Date: February 8th, 2011
Pages: 398
Language: English