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THE WEALTH OF SHADOWS

Fans of historical fiction will like this unusual take on World War II.

America pits dollars against reichsmarks in this tale of economic warfare.

In August 1939, war has not quite begun. In Minnesota, government employee Ansel Luxford is horrified at the looming Nazi threat. He goes to work for the U.S. Treasury Department with a plan to fight Hitler: Dry up his source of money to purchase war materiel. Then hostilities begin, and if the U.S., which is legally neutral, is going to provide critical goods to France and Great Britain, it must also be willing to sell to Germany. How to get around that? Let the Germans know that they must pay in U.S. dollars and not reichsmarks, and make sure they don’t have those dollars to pay. And then “lend” the U.K. 150 million bullets and lots of military hardware, like tanks. That oversimplifies the plot, but that’s the gist. Using meticulous research, the author recounts a little-known aspect of the fight against the Nazis. All the characters and biographical details are historically accurate but for a few the author acknowledges at the end. The result is a painless tutorial in economic theory, with vigorous debates about the value of the dollar versus sterling. Once America is in the war, talk turns to the future: Could a world bank and an international monetary fund prevent future global conflicts? The story doesn’t show any dramatic pain suffered by the Germans, perhaps because a dollar desert and Nazi battlefield losses are hard to conflate in a scene. The characters are fascinating, such as Harry Dexter White, a senior U.S. Treasury official believed to have been a Soviet spy, and the brilliant and arrogant John Maynard Keynes. The author lifts Luxford from complete obscurity into quiet heroism, apparently well deserved. There’s a mystery about a displaced paper clip and a threat with an unloaded pistol, but little else titillates the senses. Still, the story flows well and will hold readers’ attention.

Fans of historical fiction will like this unusual take on World War II.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9780593731925

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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TOM CLANCY ACT OF DEFIANCE

Well-paced excitement as the Ryans come through again.

Echoes of Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October reverberate four decades after the late author’s famous debut.

In 1984, Dimitri Gorov plans to deliver details of the advanced Soviet submarine Red October to the Americans, but Marko Ramius has already defected and delivered the boat itself. Gorov dies and now, decades later, his son Konstantin captains the Belgorod, Russia’s most advanced sub. Said sub goes rogue along with its nuclear-tipped torpedoes that can penetrate American defenses and blow up some of our coastal cities, or “wipe the American Atlantic fleet off the map.” Driven by multiple grievances, Konstantin wants to do just that, but a painful illness may bring him down. Meanwhile, young Navy lieutenant Kathleen (Katie, please) Ryan plays one of several key roles in trying to stop World War III. She’s smart and appealing and tries hard to downplay the fact that she’s President Jack Ryan’s daughter—“Daddy’s little girl,” as a snarky officer says to her face. In one nail-biting scene a helicopter tries to transfer her from a ship to a submarine in the open ocean. As with every novel in the series, readers are treated to a ton of technical details and asides that slow the reading occasionally, but without which it would not be a Clancy yarn. And of course, there is the obligatory establishment of what fine all-around Americans the Ryans are. Plenty of well-crafted characters, Russian and American, make up the cast. War begins to brew as a Russian MiG is shot down and troubles threaten to escalate. At one point, Katie “felt like the entire world was barreling toward oblivion and she was the only one who could stop it.” But wait: Late in the game, Konstantin muses, “There is nothing the Americans can do to stop me.” Who is right? Hmm, that’s a tough one. In her proud father’s mind, Lieutenant Ryan becomes “Katie—my little girl turned naval officer overnight.”

Well-paced excitement as the Ryans come through again.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9780593422878

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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THINK TWICE

A great premise leads through all the twists you’d expect to a thoroughly muddy final movement.

Sports agent Myron Bolitar meets the Setup Serial Killer, who’s found a highly effective way to keep anyone from connecting the dots.

There’s no arguing with DNA evidence, the ultimate forensic clincher. So when basketball player Greg Downing’s DNA is found on the scene where retired model Cecelia Callister and her son, Clay, were killed, the FBI comes calling on Myron to ask where they can find Greg. Myron’s a reasonable person to ask because Greg was his schoolmate and former client, the man who wooed and won Myron’s girlfriend away from him and made her Emily Downing. Try as he might, though, Myron can’t help much beyond repeating the obvious: Greg died three years ago, and his body was cremated. Since the Feds aren’t about to give up their search, Myron and his partner, financial advisor Win Lockwood, decide they’d better see if they can get ahead of this story by confirming or contradicting the story of Greg’s death. Meantime, a series of interleaved episodes show the killer eliminating a series of primary targets and framing secondary targets so convincingly for the murders, with special thanks to planted DNA, that it never occurs to the police to connect crimes that were so readily solved on their own. Complications arise when Myron’s thrown together with Jeremy Downing, the son he fathered in a pre-wedding tryst with Emily and then passed off as Greg’s, and when the allies of mob boss Joseph “Joey the Toe” Turant, who was locked up four years ago after his DNA-fueled conviction for the murder of Jordan Kravat, decide to lean on Myron to get him to reveal where Greg is.

A great premise leads through all the twists you’d expect to a thoroughly muddy final movement.

Pub Date: May 14, 2024

ISBN: 9781538756317

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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