Stirring, often bitter, but ultimately uplifting.

READ REVIEW

WARRIOR WOMAN

THE EXCEPTIONAL LIFE STORY OF NONHELEMA, SHAWNEE INDIAN WOMAN CHIEF

Prequel to Sign-Talker (2000), introducing an 18th-century female Shawnee Indian chief whose pursuit of peace leads to endless conflict with lovers, friends, and foes.

We meet Nonhelema (“Not a Man”) in 1774, on the eve of a confrontation with British soldiers loosely allied to a division of colonial troops. Though nearly fifty, she has the lithe body of a woman half her age and fights alongside her fiercest male warriors. Her entourage includes an escaped African slave as well as a daughter from a previous liaison with a Caucasian. Nonhelema’s mother, now named Elizabeth, has converted to Christianity and lives full-time in a nearby Christian mission. The British are marching on Shawnee lands in what are now portions of western Pennsylvania and Ohio to claim, by force if necessary, the hunting grounds they say were sold to them by the Iroquois. The Shawnees say those grounds do not belong to anyone and cannot be sold. Nonhelem’s tribe wants war, and they fight so fiercely that the Colonial army asks for a parley. Things go from bad to worse as Nonhelema realizes that, despite the compassionate love of the Christian God whites claim to believe in, the intruders will eventually take everything the Shawnees hold dear. Never afraid to fight, she counsels peace because she has blood ties and religious loyalties on both sides. (Among the plot twists is her brief fling with a rough-and-ready frontiersman, Alexander McKee, which results in another offspring.) Conflicting relations with the British and the colonials during the Revolutionary War bring about the massacre of Nonhelema’s tribe, and she faces a future that, while uncertain, is no less noble. Collaborating for the first time on fiction with his Shawnee wife, Thom adds to his gallery of Native American heroes a woman whose character transcends her culture, but whose culture gives her incomparable skills, strengths, beauty and insights.

Stirring, often bitter, but ultimately uplifting.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-345-44554-6

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

ONE GOOD DEED

Thriller writer Baldacci (A Minute to Midnight, 2019, etc.) launches a new detective series starring World War II combat vet Aloysius Archer.

In 1949, Archer is paroled from Carderock Prison (he was innocent) and must report regularly to his parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree (she’s “damn fine-looking”). Parole terms forbid his visiting bars or loose women, which could become a problem. Trouble starts when businessman Hank Pittleman offers Archer $100 to recover a ’47 Cadillac that’s collateral for a debt owed by Lucas Tuttle, who readily agrees he owes the money. But Tuttle wants his daughter Jackie back—she’s Pittleman’s girlfriend, and she won’t return to Daddy. Archer finds the car, but it’s been torched. With no collateral to collect, he may have to return his hundred bucks. Meanwhile, Crabtree gets Archer the only job available, butchering hogs at the slaughterhouse. He’d killed plenty of men in combat, and now he needs peace. The Pittleman job doesn’t provide that peace, but at least it doesn’t involve bashing hogs’ brains in. People wind up dead and Archer becomes a suspect. So he noses around and shows that he might have the chops to be a good private investigator, a shamus. This is an era when gals have gams, guys say dang and keep extra Lucky Strikes in their hatbands, and a Lady Liberty half-dollar buys a good meal. The dialogue has a '40s noir feel: “And don’t trust nobody.…I don’t care how damn pretty they are.” There’s adult entertainment at the Cat’s Meow, cheap grub at the Checkered Past, and just enough clichés to prove that no one’s highfalutin. Readers will like Archer. He’s a talented man who enjoys detective stories, won’t keep ill-gotten gains, and respects women. All signs suggest a sequel where he hangs out a shamus shingle.

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5056-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

Did you like this book?

more