A modicum of period tension, but the real pleasure is the close-up view of daily life in the darkening Reich.

SILESIAN STATION

An Anglo-American reporter spies for three nations in the last days of Hitler’s countdown to war.

John Russell, the journalist introduced in Zoo Station (2007), made it safely through one episode of triple jeopardy under the Nazis, and he enlarged his personal safety zone with the acquisition of an American passport on a trip west with his 12-year-old son Paul. At this point, he would be happy to stick to the sad business of reporting Germany’s descent into the madness of another war. But the Gestapo have other plans for him. If he ever wants to see his actress girlfriend Effi freed from the prison into which she was thrown on a trumped-up charge, he will have to do the bidding of the secret police, transmitting phony intelligence to the Soviet Union. The Gestapo, of course, have no idea that Russell has brought back a little spy work from America or that his contacts with the Russians are colored by his emotional and intellectual sympathies with the Glorious Workers nation. Nor are they aware that Russell’s best friend and former brother-in-law Thomas Schade has enlisted his assistance in tracking down a young Jew, Miriam Rosenfeld. Miriam’s family sent her from their little Silesian farm to what they thought would be safety in Berlin with her uncle, Schade’s employee. But the uncle never made it to the Silesian Station, and Miriam went off with a stranger. Russell’s connections with the Russians, his search for Miriam and his assignments as the correspondent for a San Francisco daily send him to, among other places, Prague, the Rosenfeld farm and the ultra-Nazi stronghold of Breslau. Each task puts him at greater risk, but he has help from the increasingly engaged Effi.

A modicum of period tension, but the real pleasure is the close-up view of daily life in the darkening Reich.

Pub Date: May 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-56947-494-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Soho

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2008

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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