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Thursday, August 20, 2009

“Murder at the Altar” by Terry Philips

On Sunday, December 4, 1933 Leon Tourian the Armenian Archbishop for America is assassinated in Church in front of everybody . 9 people were eventually charged with the murder. Terry Peters is a reporter for the Herald Tribune who happened to be there when it happened. It was an assassination that pit one part of the Armenian community against the other part of the community.

The book is a historical novel set in both modern times and 1933. Terry Peters is now an old man retired and living in Florida. In the back of his mind he is convinced that they never really found Levon Tourian’s killer. So he goes back to New York and begins digging through archives and court records to reconstruct the events that happened in 1933. In his quest he has to face beaughocratic indifference and a lack of Armenian interest in reopening old wound. In many ways these wound have not healed to this day.

The story also jumps back into the past in both reconstructing even that happened at the time of Levon Tourian’s assassination and Armenian History. ThE genocide is discussed and how it has left the Armenian’s traumatized in 1933 even though It happened in 1915 . The rivalry between Hunchak and Dashnak is also touched upon. Leon Tourian was controversial, although he did his best to keep the church out of the politics of Armenia which was then controlled by the Soviet Union.. The Hunchaks were in favor oif the Russians and the Dashnaks were against . Controversy broiled around Leon Tourian when he refused to hoist the Dasshank flag during an Armenian gathering.

THE book is great if you are into mysteries. For the uninitiated it give enough background for you to understand the Armenian dilemma. The novel gives one the feeling of having been in New York during the 1930’s. One also gains an insight into the division in the Armenian community and how much infighting their was. Over all great book.

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One blond hair blue eyed Calfornian who totally digs the Middle East.
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