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THE CRATE: A Story Of War, A Murder, And Justice

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  289 ratings  ·  78 reviews
"Evocative, and inspiring ... So much more than a true crime." - Steve Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of NO STONE UNTURNED

After surviving the horrors of the Holocaust – in ghettos, on death marches, and in concentration camps – a young couple seeks refuge in Canada. They settle into a new life, certain that the terrors of their past are behind them. They buil
Kindle Edition
Published June 19th 2018 by WildBlue Press
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Valerity (Val)
A very well told story about a family’s lake cottage in Canada- their peaceful getaway from the workaday world that they’ve made for themselves, after starting over in Canada once surviving the Holocaust. They find their tranquil place has suddenly gone from a precious memory, to everyone’s newest nightmare after a crate is found with the remains of a murdered body hidden in the crawlspace underneath the cottage. . As they struggle to come to terms with it as police investigate, they wonder if v ...more
Sharon Hart-Green
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I found this memoir to be a thoroughly engaging read, and was hooked after the first page or two. In fact, I read the entire book in two or three sittings. The author deftly manages to tell two stories in a seamless fashion: the grizzly discovery of a dead body hidden in a crate beneath the family cottage north of Toronto, and how the trauma of the discovery reawakened the buried memories of her family's survival of the Holocaust in Hungary many years earlier. I highly recommend this book for re ...more
Margaret Sankey
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Vadas' parents were Hungarian Jews who escaped the Holocaust as young adults, then fled Communist Hungary with the author's elder brother in a backpack. Their carefully insulated community of friends, all marked by their experiences, allowed them to build a new life in Toronto, relentlessly shielding their kids from danger and risk. In 2011, though, the family found out that the handyman they'd hired because of his Eastern European last name and friendly personality had brutally murdered his ex ...more
Bev Walkling
4.5 stars (rounded up to 5)

Thank you to #NetGalley, the author and publisher for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

First of all, I felt very honoured to be able to read a copy of this powerful book. It is hard to categorize in some ways because it can fit into several different genres as the title leads one to expect. At different points throughout the book we learn about the experiences of the author's Hungarian parents as they lived not only through the Holocaust but also thr
Lori Kaufmann
I finished The Crate a few days ago but needed time to gather my thoughts before I wrote this review. The Crate is the kind of book that you zip through because it's a true-life page-turner, but then you need time to process it all because there's so much depth. The author has skillfully woven four story strands together - the mystery of a dead body turning up at her parents' summer cottage, the heart-wrenching saga of her parents' struggle for survival in war-torn Europe and their subsequent im ...more
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really, really loved this book...

This is not one, but a collection of powerful crime stories, braided together by coincidence, chaos or fate into the author's life. We not only see the progress of all these other people's life stories but we get to see how the author herself makes the transition from being the protected daughter of a loving family, living a comfortable life, to someone face to face with true evil, seeing the largest crime in recorded human history through the eyes of her paren
Good Book Fairy
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-read

The Crate is a beautifully written true story written by the daughter of Hungarian Jewish Holocaust survivors. This read was not what I initially expected. The title can be misleading, because the story is much more of a memoir versus a typical true crime story. It reads more like a novel than nonfiction. This book is actually the weaving together of several stories that move back and forth between the present and the past. The author talks about her present-day life with her family, after movi
Oct 12, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: given-up
This book was just bad,really bad. The whole book was just all over the place and l had to give up on it.
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Crate: A Story of War, A Murder, and Justice by Deborah Vadas Levison was two stories linked together by family, love and understanding. I have to admit that it was a little confusing when I first began reading this book but by the end it all fit together perfectly.

Deborah Vadas Levison grew up in Toronto, Canada. She was the daughter of parents that survived the Holocaust. Growing up, Deborah was aware of her parent's accent and peculiarities. She knew that her parents had grown up in Hung
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating story, well actually several fascinating stories, all woven together quite seamlessly through Deborah Vadas Levison's narration and her need for self-discovery. While uncovering the truth behind a horrific murder that shook her family to its core, Levison delves into her family's Holocaust story and the unimaginable experiences that shaped her parents, and thus she and her brother, to be the people they are today. Levison's storytelling makes you feel that you are in the ro ...more
Jennifer Passaretti
Wonderful story. I started reading this because it was recommended by a friend and I wasn’t disappointed. True story that was written by the daughter of Hungarian Jewish Holocaust survivors. The mystery aspect (crate with the remains of a woman was found at her parents’ summer cottage) made this book a page turner. As the crate mystery unfolds, the author also unveils more and more about her parents and grandparents during the holocaust. Again, this was a true story and the murder took place in ...more
Rebecca Hill
When I first saw the description of this book - I thought, there is no way to really draw these two things together. Well, okay, I was wrong, but some of the threads really didn't seem to fit.

I read through this book, and while I loved the historical pieces that were mixed in, I felt this author was extreme in many of her descriptions. There were places where this could have been cut down to fewer words, with just as much meaning - and nothing is left out. I could almost feel her anxiety throug
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a heart wrenching true crime, but it reads like a novel. There is no boring police procedural, there is just real people, raw emotions, and horrible tragedy. The author describes in great detail her parents survival during the holocaust, their hopes and dreams of a new life and owning a small lake front property of their own, and the shocking murder that touched their lives when a body was discovered on their land. This was an incredible read. 5 stars

I received an advance copy for revie
Alicia Smock
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Canada became the safe haven for a young Jewish couple who survived the horrors of the Holocaust. Canada is where they were able to create a family, build a cottage on a lake in Muskoka, and enjoy all of the wonderful things life had to offer. Yet when they thought all terrors were in the past with the war, a horrifying discovery is uncovered. In the crawl space under their cabin, a crate was found and within it, the remains of an unknown human being. Deborah Vadas Levison, daughter of the Holoc ...more
Annette Jordan
A fascinating and memorable book that combines the horrors of life under the Nazi regime in Hungary with a modern day true crime , this book may seem like a strange blend but it is one that works well. It is clearly a very personal work for the author, as not only does it involve her family history but it also describes a horrific crime that came to light on her family's summer property. The book opens with a shocking phone call to the author, where her brother reveals that a crate containing hu ...more
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book about how the past and how it can shape our present even without our awareness. Although the murder at the author's parents cabin and her parents' Holocaust experience aren't directly related (a fact that seems to have really bothered some reviewers that I feel are missing the point), the journey of learning about her parents' past and unearthing the truth about the murder worked really well together for me in this book. It's easy to push the violence and horror that lives i ...more
Jill Crosby
A very compelling read, braiding together the Holocaust, a modern-day murder, and a search for belonging. I found the themes fitting together in kind of a forced way, playing the murder off the Holocaust survivors, ricocheting back to searching for a sense of self and belonging, retuning to the Holocaust, and back through the maze again.
Both major stories—The Holocaust and the murder—are independently vividly told. It’s just that the one doesn’t quite compliment the other as I think the author
Steve Jackson
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: true-crime
This is not your typical true crime book. The author weaves the story of her parents' experiences as Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust with what happens when a body is found on their property on a Canadian lake many years later. Both poignant and chilling. ...more
Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)
Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for a copy of the book. As always an honest review.

*My rating is actually 4.5 stars but since there's not half stars, I always round up.

I cannot say enough wonderful things about the book. I've already recommended it to people, even before I had finished reading it. I will try my best to do the book and the people the justice it deserves in my review.

From the beginning I was blown away by the gorgeous poetic writing. I was captivated from beginni
Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)
Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for a copy of the book. As always an honest review.

*My rating is actually 4.5 stars but since there's not half stars, I always round up.

I cannot say enough wonderful things about the book. I've already recommended it to people, even before I had finished reading it. I will try my best to do the book and the people the justice it deserves in my review.

From the beginning I was blown away by the gorgeous poetic writing. I was captivated from beginni
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Crate: A Story of War, A Murder, and Justice is a non-fiction written by Deborah Vadas Levison. This is a Holocaust memoir of her parents combined with a true life crime and murder mystery. It is definitely a different way to tell a Holocaust story but it is effective.
Deborah Vadas grew up in Canada with her parents, older brother, and maternal Grandmother. She had always felt a little left out as she was Jewish but not raised Jewish. She was also raised in an Hungarian atmosphere since her
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fascinating story of a murder with the body buried below the author's cottage. In the course of the book, the reader sees the slow unspooling of the Holocaust secrets of the author's parents, including time in the concentration camps; the assessment of what a Jew is--the author is Hungarian, Canadian, American, but ultimately Jewish, even though growing up she barely even knows what this means. Also some nice discussion of synchronicity: How descendants of Holocaust survivors reflect the traum ...more
Heidi Slowinski
Jan 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A grisly discovery under her family’s Toronto cottage suddenly brings back author, Deborah Vada Levison’s parents’, long set-aside memories of the horrors of the Shoah. As renovations are being completed on her family’s idyllic get-away spot, a crate containing human remains is found under the cottage. Vada Levison’s memoir explores trauma and survivor’s guilt as she recounts the atrocity faced by her parents in the Holocaust and the present day shattering of their new-found peace.

Vada Levison r
Sam Heffer
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When “The Crate” is found at her family’s summer cottage, Deborah Vadas Levison feels compelled to tell not one, but two important stories. At first, they may only appear to share the cottage setting, but as Ms. Levison unpacks both her family’s history of Holocaust survival, and the cottage crime victim’s own life story, the reader sees commonalities in both families’ experiences. Members of each have encountered the worst evils of human behaviour. Ms. Levison paints scenes with meticulous deta ...more
Arthur Pitz
Jan 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
War, Murder, and Justice are timeless themes; but, have a particular meaning in this well crafted book. You will learn about Holocaust survivors and their children. How could a human murder someone in such a despicable manner as described in this book? How could large numbers of humans carry out genocide on a mass scale? How could anyone who has had to deal with these experiences not be crippled with nightmares; and yet live a good life?

This book addresses these issues in a personal way. It shou
Asha Dahya
Apr 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I could not put this book down!!! What a heartbreaking, beautiful, gut-wrenching and painful interwoven set of stories. I felt like I was part of Deborah's family, eating the wonderfully-described food her mom made, learning about her parents' history, and being part of the unfolding story relating to the shocking murder that rocked her family.
This story needs to be made into a movie, or a mini-series. It took me only a handful of days to read the entire book, and each night when I reluctantly
Jul 28, 2018 rated it liked it
THE CRATE: A Story Of War, A Murder, And Justice examines man’s seemingly limitless capacity for evil... but also, his capacity for good.

The crate by Deborah Vadas Levison was not what I had initially expected. This book is a true crime novel regarding a murder in a small Canadian town. The narrator is the daughter of holocaust survivors. The author weaves an intriguing story of love and loss. I enjoyed the backstory of the author learning her heritage.

There is a true love woven into this work
Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The story, ostensibly about a body found beneath the house, is actually a meandering true story that spans multiple decades and generations, but never really gains traction in the past or present. It muses on the similarities and differences between an individual's murder and the evil visited on Jews during the holocaust, but doesn't really draw any conclusions.

The plot thread about the body is discarded for vast stretches, and is of surprisingly minor significance by the end. Meanwhile, the wr
Jul 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So, I just finished this book and simply had to come back up from the lake to the little cottage we’ve rented for a couple of weeks where,(ironically?) I started and finished it.

I don’t know where to begin - first of all I couldn’t put it down. There wasn’t a moment, whether when retelling the “true crime” story, or the story of herself or her parents where I felt there was something missing or something extraneous.

I found myself marvelling at how brave she had to be to to lay herself bare as
Rochelle Markowitz
This book is spellbinding. As Deborah Levison weaves together two tales of tragedy or three, actually, her father and mother's horrid experience surviving the Holocaust; and the murder of a young woman whose remains were found at the Vadas' summer cottage. Levison uses flashbacks of her fathers and mothers experience barely coming out alive of the Nazi regime and the horrific murder of an innocent young woman, who was a daughter, sister and mother. Levison amazingly integrates the murder victim ...more
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