A swashbuckling and often surprising novel of Risorgimento Italy.

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TERRIBILITA

In Shore’s debut historical novel, two men from a famous family prove their worth in the battles of 19th-century Italy.

At the age of 31, Enzo Ferrando is the leader of the longshoremen in the Port of Genoa. He is respected for his abilities—and is also known to be impulsive. When he sinks a ship full of guns belonging to a powerful politician, the fallout leaves his father—an old war hero who served under Garibaldi—dead. Enzo himself is forced to join the Italian army in Eritrea. There he becomes captain of a company in the Galliano Battalion. “I profess that putting eighty-two souls in the hands of a dockworker seems to me dangerous and irresponsible,” he is told by his commanding officer. “But this commission came down from the top, and I am a man that follows orders. Your father had powerful friends.” Enzo soon establishes himself as the rare officer who will work and fight harder than any enlisted man, though his impulsiveness has not much subsided. Against the backdrop of Italy’s misadventures in Africa, Enzo attempts to live up to the name and deeds of his father—and leaves a legacy that his own son, Lucca, will have to live with once he is grown. Shore captures not only the war and politics of the time period, but the romantic lens through which the characters view their world: “The 540 men of Galliano Battalion called the garrison many things but never called it home. When it was not oppression by dust, it could be oppression by fog. Even the fog was dry and hit the lungs more like smoke than vapor, and it rolled in like a sinister mist, sometimes pervading the garrison for days on end.” As the story unfolds, that romanticism—and the heroism, colonialism, and violence it contains—is slowly called into question as the story shifts from the life of Enzo to that of Lucca. The book has a satisfying, unpredictable shape, and the plot—contrived as it often is—is always entertaining. Fans of historical fiction will enjoy this adventure set in a less well-known part of 19th-century Europe.

A swashbuckling and often surprising novel of Risorgimento Italy.

Pub Date: March 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-578-63203-2

Page Count: 258

Publisher: Cinder Block Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

ONE GOOD DEED

Thriller writer Baldacci (A Minute to Midnight, 2019, etc.) launches a new detective series starring World War II combat vet Aloysius Archer.

In 1949, Archer is paroled from Carderock Prison (he was innocent) and must report regularly to his parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree (she’s “damn fine-looking”). Parole terms forbid his visiting bars or loose women, which could become a problem. Trouble starts when businessman Hank Pittleman offers Archer $100 to recover a ’47 Cadillac that’s collateral for a debt owed by Lucas Tuttle, who readily agrees he owes the money. But Tuttle wants his daughter Jackie back—she’s Pittleman’s girlfriend, and she won’t return to Daddy. Archer finds the car, but it’s been torched. With no collateral to collect, he may have to return his hundred bucks. Meanwhile, Crabtree gets Archer the only job available, butchering hogs at the slaughterhouse. He’d killed plenty of men in combat, and now he needs peace. The Pittleman job doesn’t provide that peace, but at least it doesn’t involve bashing hogs’ brains in. People wind up dead and Archer becomes a suspect. So he noses around and shows that he might have the chops to be a good private investigator, a shamus. This is an era when gals have gams, guys say dang and keep extra Lucky Strikes in their hatbands, and a Lady Liberty half-dollar buys a good meal. The dialogue has a '40s noir feel: “And don’t trust nobody.…I don’t care how damn pretty they are.” There’s adult entertainment at the Cat’s Meow, cheap grub at the Checkered Past, and just enough clichés to prove that no one’s highfalutin. Readers will like Archer. He’s a talented man who enjoys detective stories, won’t keep ill-gotten gains, and respects women. All signs suggest a sequel where he hangs out a shamus shingle.

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5056-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

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To use the parlance of the period, a highly relevant retrospective.

SUMMER OF '69

Nantucket, not Woodstock, is the main attraction in Hilderbrand’s (Winter in Paradise, 2018, etc.) bittersweet nostalgia piece about the summer of 1969.

As is typical with Hilderbrand’s fiction, several members of a family have their says. Here, that family is the “stitched together” Foley-Levin clan, ruled over by the appropriately named matriarch, Exalta, aka Nonny, mother of Kate Levin. Exalta’s Nantucket house, All’s Fair, also appropriately named, is the main setting. Kate’s three older children, Blair, 24, Kirby, 20, and Tiger, 19, are products of her first marriage, to Wilder Foley, a war veteran, who shot himself. Second husband David Levin is the father of Jessie, who’s just turned 13. Tiger has been drafted and sends dispatches to Jessie from Vietnam. Kirby has been arrested twice while protesting the war in Boston. (Don’t tell Nonny!) Blair is married and pregnant; her MIT astrophysicist husband, Angus, is depressive, controlling, and deceitful—the unmelodramatic way Angus’ faults sneak up on both Blair and the reader is only one example of Hilderbrand’s firm grasp on real life. Many plot elements are specific to the year. Kirby is further rebelling by forgoing Nantucket for rival island Martha’s Vineyard—and a hotel job close to Chappaquiddick. Angus will be working at Mission Control for the Apollo 11 lunar landing. Kirby has difficult romantic encounters, first with her arresting officer, then with a black Harvard student whose mother has another reason, besides Kirby’s whiteness, to distrust her. Pick, grandson of Exalta’s caretaker, is planning to search for his hippie mother at Woodstock. Other complications seem very up-to-date: a country club tennis coach is a predator and pedophile. Anti-Semitism lurks beneath the club’s genteel veneer. Kate’s drinking has accelerated since Tiger’s deployment overseas. Exalta’s toughness is seemingly untempered by grandmotherly love. As always, Hilderbrand’s characters are utterly convincing and immediately draw us into their problems, from petty to grave. Sometimes, her densely packed tales seem to unravel toward the end. This is not one of those times.

To use the parlance of the period, a highly relevant retrospective.

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-42001-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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