One of the heroine’s most perilous and exciting adventures features misogyny in every ugly form.

READ REVIEW

MURDER AT WHITBY ABBEY

A penance designated for Hildegard of Meaux Abbey brings her into great danger.

England in 1389 is no safe place for anyone, as the great lords fight among themselves over the power rightly belonging to the young Richard II. But it’s even less safe for Hildegard when Abbot Hubert de Courcy, disturbed by her sexual escapade with Sir Ulf of Langbar (Murder at Meaux, 2018, etc.), commands her to go soon after Christmas to Whitby Abbey to try to obtain a holy relic for Meaux. Accompanying her are Brother Luke, a young and innocent monk, and her old friends, the fighting monks Gregory and Egbert. The massive Whitby is home to the dour Benedictines, who are willing to assuage their poverty by selling a lock of hair from Abbess Hild of Whitby. Upon her arrival, Hildegard finds herself in a bidding war with both wealthy religious houses and wealthy lords. Abbot Richmond himself is noncommittal; the place seems to be run by his bursar, Peter Hertilpole, a supercilious type locked in a battle with the poor fisherfolk of the town over payments to the abbey they can’t afford. Hildegard suspects that the relic is actually horsehair, but, loathe to return empty-handed, she and her friends wait for the bidding to proceed. When Brother Aelwyn is found dead in the apple storeroom, Hildegard is first puzzled, then alarmed by the realization that he was murdered even though the monks have chosen to ignore the crime. Another death that follows is also claimed to be accidental, but Hildegard and her friends, acutely aware of the dangerous currents swirling among the monks and the townsfolk, continue to hunt for answers and justice for the dead.

One of the heroine’s most perilous and exciting adventures features misogyny in every ugly form.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7278-8953-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Though gripping, even moving at times, the novel doesn’t do justice to the solemn history from which it is drawn.

CILKA'S JOURNEY

In this follow-up to the widely read The Tattooist of Auschwitz (2018), a young concentration camp survivor is sentenced to 15 years’ hard labor in a Russian gulag.

The novel begins with the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops in 1945. In the camp, 16-year-old Cecilia "Cilka" Klein—one of the Jewish prisoners introduced in Tattooist—was forced to become the mistress of two Nazi commandants. The Russians accuse her of collaborating—they also think she might be a spy—and send her to the Vorkuta Gulag in Siberia. There, another nightmarish scenario unfolds: Cilka, now 18, and the other women in her hut are routinely raped at night by criminal-class prisoners with special “privileges”; by day, the near-starving women haul coal from the local mines in frigid weather. The narrative is intercut with Cilka’s grim memories of Auschwitz as well as her happier recollections of life with her parents and sister before the war. At Vorkuta, her lot improves when she starts work as a nurse trainee at the camp hospital under the supervision of a sympathetic woman doctor who tries to protect her. Cilka also begins to feel the stirrings of romantic love for Alexandr, a fellow prisoner. Though believing she is cursed, Cilka shows great courage and fortitude throughout: Indeed, her ability to endure trauma—as well her heroism in ministering to the sick and wounded—almost defies credulity. The novel is ostensibly based on a true story, but a central element in the book—Cilka’s sexual relationship with the SS officers—has been challenged by the Auschwitz Memorial Research Center and by the real Cilka’s stepson, who says it is false. As in Tattooist, the writing itself is workmanlike at best and often overwrought.

Though gripping, even moving at times, the novel doesn’t do justice to the solemn history from which it is drawn.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-26570-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

more