The Warsaw Anagrams

Beautifully written, moving and disturbing, this packs a powerful, emotional punch.
— The Guardian
Cover: The Warsaw Anagrams

The Warsaw Anagrams
Richard Zimler | 2011


A chilling and stunningly written noir mystery set inside Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto – and told by a man who by all accounts should be dead and gone…

In the autumn of 1940, the Nazis sealed 400,000 Jews inside a small area of the Polish capital, creating an urban island cut off from the outside world. Erik Cohen, an elderly psychiatrist, is forced to move into a tiny apartment there with his niece and his beloved nine-year-old nephew, Adam.

One bitterly cold winter day, Adam goes missing. The next morning, his body is discovered in the barbed wire surrounding this Jewish ghetto. The boy’s leg has been cut off, and a tiny piece of string has been left in his mouth.

For what possible reason has his body been desecrated?

Erik fights off his crushing rage and despair by vowing to find his nephew’s murderer – and take revenge. His childhood friend Izzy – whose quick courage and wicked sense of humour keeps Erik from losing his nerve – joins him in the desperate and dangerous search.

Soon, another body turns up – this time a girl’s, and one of her hands has been taken. Evidence begins to point to a Jewish traitor luring children to their death…

In this profoundly moving and darkly atmospheric historical thriller, Erik and Izzy take the reader along with them into the most forbidden corners of Nazi-occupied Warsaw – as well as into the most heroic places of the heart.

  • #1 “Jewish” title for Kindle sales at

  • #1 “Classic” title for Kindle sales at

  • One of the 20 Best Books of the Last Decade (The Publico – Portugal)

  • Number 1 Portuguese Bestseller

  • Number 6 English Bestseller   

  • 2011 Book of the Year – ABC Radio Brisbane, Australia

  • 2011 Earphones Award from AudioFile Magazine (USA) (one of the top audio editions of the year)

  • 2010 “Marquês de Ouro” Prize for Book of the Year (from high school teachers and students in Portugal)

  • 2009 Book of the Year (LER Magazine – Portugal)  


Review in the San Francisco Chronicle (USA)

Review in the Independent (UK)

Article about Richard’s book tour in Poland (where Richard’s grandparents were from there)

Great interview about Richard’s writing and The Warsaw Anagrams

Review on ABC (National) Radio (Australia)

Reviews from readers on Goodreads

Review in La Cause Littéraire (France)

Review in Eurocrime

Review in La Repubblica (Italia)

Praise for The Warsaw Anagrams

“Equal parts riveting, heartbreaking, inspiring and intelligent, this mystery set in the most infamous Jewish ghetto of World War II deserves a place among the most important works of Holocaust literature.”
–San Francisco Chronicle   

"Both a fast-moving mystery novel and a rich, serious book, in which Zimler...pays tribute to those who died in the Holocaust."
–The Independent

“I loved ‘The Warsaw Anagrams’.  The wonderful interplay between reality and imagination eased my way back to Poland, the country my parents left as children.”
–Aaron Ciechanover
Israeli Nobel Prizewinner in Chemistry

“Richard Zimler's Warsaw Anagrams is a gripping heartbreaking and beautiful thriller, set in the darkest depths of Nazi barbarity, and also an unforgettable, poetical and original journey into the mysteries of evil, decency and the human heart.”
–Simon Sebag Montefiore
Author of Jerusalem: The Biography and Young Stalin

“Beautifully written, moving and disturbing, this packs a powerful, emotional punch”
–The Guardian (England)

“A fast-moving mystery novel and a rich, serious book, in which Zimler pays tribute to those who died in the Holocaust.”
–The Independent (England)

“A mesmerising thriller-oriented narrative…  Zimler's canny utilisation here of a protagonist far removed from the vigorous heroes of most fiction is a masterstroke.”
–Crime Time (England)

“A beautiful and poignant novel – and an extraordinary thriller about the Holocaust.  Better even than The Prague Cemetery.”
–Panorama (Italy)

“A compelling, poignant portrait of one man’s attempt to impose order on the insanity of the Third Reich.”
–The Jewish Chronicle (England)

Richard Zimler