Sigma Xi Orange County Chapter

The Death of Rafael

On a cold and rainy spring day in 1944, Giselle Haussman gives birth to a son in the back of a truck taking her through war-torn Central Europe to a Nazi forced labor camp. She names the newborn Rafael, and in a hopeless bid to save him from certain death, she leaves the two-day-old infant in a forest outside an unknown town. Her desperate act is witnessed by three local women, but also by a German officer and the town’s priest.

Almost half a century later, Rafael’s younger sister, Daniela, now a lawyer in San Francisco, is obsessed by her brother’s fate. She embarks on a long journey to find what had really happened to Rafael. But Giselle’s strange hostility and fears oppose Daniela. The three local women may have never existed. The German officer is dead and the priest seems to have slipped into madness. Fantasist memories, trickery and mendacious silence obscure and derail the truth. It all points to Rafael’s death.

In this dramatic page turner built around powerful, morally complex characters, Renescu takes the reader across continents, from the Carpathians to the Andes, from Berlin to San Francisco, from Buenos Aires to Rome. THE DEATH OF RAFAEL tells the story of opposing destinies caught in a web of guilt and secrets. This is a tale of loss and heartbreak, fear and despair, and ultimately hope and redemption.

(Available April 1.)