A smooth, gripping yarn, though it doesn’t quite deliver all it promises.


A kind man whose violent outbursts rob him of all he loves is the protagonist of Hyde’s third novel, slightly glib but possessing some of the quiet poignancy of its predecessor, Pay It Forward (2000).

Like a modern-day Job, Hayden Reese has been sorely tried. It’s bad enough that his hound Jenny, beloved companion of many years, died; that his lover, Laurel, went back to her husband; that he takes out his pain on the vet in his backwoods California town and ends up in jail (again); that Laurel comes around after he’s out and gets him to rescue her teenaged daughter, Peg, working against her will in a Nevada brothel; that Peg falls for him and sets in motion events that lead to Hayden lying in the dirt outside his house, bleeding from a shotgun wound inflicted by Laurel’s husband. Somehow (a bit too miraculously) he survives all of that, and angry, guilty, brawling Hayden gets another chance with Allegra, the daughter he hasn’t seen in 15 years. He’s angry because the wife he helped put through medical school left him when he nearly pummeled Allegra’s first date to death after the boy pawed her against her will. He’s guilty because he was having a first sexual encounter of his own when his reckless younger brother, whom Hayden had been ordered to be responsible for, decided to climb a transmission tower using a grappling hook and was electrocuted. And he’s brawling because that’s the way his strapping, archconservative father was; although he hates the man and beat him up before leaving home for good, using brute force was the only way he learned to cope with adversity. Now Allegra is getting married and wants him there, but first he has to make peace with the demons that have beset him for so much of his life.

A smooth, gripping yarn, though it doesn’t quite deliver all it promises.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2000

ISBN: 0-7432-1118-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2000

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The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

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An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

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