Elliott, taking her turn in the author’s seat for the Quilts of Love Series, produces pleasantly one-dimensional characters...

A STITCH IN CRIME

Co-chairing a quilt show seems like a piece of cake until disaster strikes.

Antiques dealer Thea James may be fairly new to quilting, but she has the bug and is delighted to help out the Quilt-Without-Guilt Guild in setting up a show featuring both local quilts and the famous Wentworth quilt, “Larkin’s Treasure.” On loan from a California museum, the Wentworth quilt is reputed to hold the clue to finding great riches. As she helps prepare for the newcomer, Thea is upset that ever since her best friend, Renee, returned from her European honeymoon, she’s done nothing but make disparaging remarks about Thea. Thea’s co-chair, Prudy, and her twin sister, Trudy, are both expert quilters, but Prudy is not pulling her weight and often goes missing while Thea deals with all the little things gone wrong. When quilt expert Dr. Cottle, the judge for the show, doesn’t show up for a lecture, Prudy claims that his secretary called and cancelled at the last minute. Mary-Alice Wentworth either falls or is pushed to her bedroom floor and must be hospitalized. Her great-nephew, Kenneth Ransome, seems distraught, but her daughter, Louisa Wentworth Carver, is more troubled about a missing diamond brooch. When the time arrives to reveal the famous quilt, all that its display case holds is broken glass. The police investigate the theft of the quilt and brooch, but Thea feels obliged to use her insider knowledge to help solve the crimes before things get even worse.

Elliott, taking her turn in the author’s seat for the Quilts of Love Series, produces pleasantly one-dimensional characters and a very slight mystery indeed.

Pub Date: Jan. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4267-7365-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Abingdon Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ

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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THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS

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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