Email this review


A beautiful Angel of Death kills Nazis for the Israeli government.

Gabriella, the complex, alluring central character of McNulty's debut novel, is one of the Nokmim, a secret force of hunters and killers enlisted by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in the years after World War II to find and execute fugitive Nazis. The story opens with her tempting a drunken former oberführer to a Paris apartment, where she tortures then kills him. Gabriella is comfortable in the role of vengeance personified (“We can't just walk away from the past,” she says. “Those butchers must answer for their crimes”). But there’s a problem: As McNulty's gripping, atmospheric story makes plain, the Israeli government may no longer be quite so comfortable with the old arrangement. The young nation is planning a televised trial of the recently captured Adolf Eichmann, and as one of Gabriella's superiors tells her, “the days of killing mid-level functionaries in dark alleys are coming to an end.” As conflicted as this makes her feel, it's nothing compared to the conflict aroused by her new assignment, to hunt down SS Major Friedrich Guderian in the backcountry of Nicaragua and administer her special brand of justice. Through hardship and illness, she eventually finds a man who could be Guderian—except that he's a beloved village missionary and personally attractive to Gabriella. The two grow closer, and the narrative expands with extensive and often harrowing flashbacks to the years of Nazi death camps and mass murder. McNulty unfolds the complex story with care and a pitch-perfect ear for dialogue (and something of an over-fondness for blocks of exposition, an easily corrected fault). Readers will fall in love with Gabriella.

A fast-paced and deeply enjoyable debut novel in need of (and deserving of) a publisher.



Pub Date: Aug. 4th, 2011
Publisher: manuscript
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online: