The Fifth Servant
By Kenneth Wishnia
(Harper Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780061725388, 398pp.)
Publication Date: February 2011
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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.