An often engaging look at Germany in the final throes of Hitler’s rule, despite some flaws in its execution.

BLIND WILL

A NOVEL

In Jorgensen’s (Where Did My Money Go?, 2009, etc.) historical novel, a German vows revenge on the Nazis when his wife is arrested for her Jewish ancestry. 

In 1944, Karl Hecker works as a clerk for the Foreign Ministry in Berlin, where he suffers the difficulties of war on the homefront, including food shortages, bombing raids, and fear of invasion by the Soviet army. A Nazi background check reveals that Anna, his wife, had a Jewish grandmother—a genealogical fact of which she was unaware. As a consequence, the Gestapo arrest her and ship her off to a labor camp, where she’ll almost certainly die. Karl is cleared of any legal wrongdoing, but he’s heartbroken by his loss and becomes obsessed with the idea of retaliation. His employers rightly suspect him of stealing classified documents at work, and as he realizes how precarious his situation is, he also figures out a way to punish Hitler’s despotic regime. (Jorgensen expresses Karl’s revelation in characteristically anodyne prose: “I took another look at the papers on my desk. I could hardly believe it. Here was a way to screw the Nazis!”) Karl decides to furtively deliver top-secret materials to the Allies via a contact in Bern, Switzerland—an old Jewish friend of Anna’s, professor Frederick Meinberg; in order to arrange the trip, he begins an affair with a colleague, Maria Moser, who has powerful family connections to the Nazi party and control over a network of couriers. As he makes the dangerous trip, he hopes to score cigarettes, which are invaluable on the black market, and maybe secure a way out of Germany for both himself and Maria before the Soviets arrive. The author’s knowledge of the historical period—and in particular, the lives of average German citizens during the war—is impressive. He affectingly depicts a world contaminated by suspicion, in which many lived in constant fear of harassment—even those without ties to the Jewish community. Despite the bombardment of propaganda, most Germans understand that a violent end to Hitler’s aggression is soon to come. Jorgensen movingly describes Karl’s anguish and irrepressible resolve as a kind of mini-revolt against an entire political machinery of tyranny. The novel’s drama, though, is undermined by bloodless prose, as well as by some weaknesses in the plot. For instance, Karl must curry favor with Maria in order to arrange his initial trip to Bern, but she seems to risk quite a lot in order to have lunch with a man whom she doesn’t know and shouldn’t trust. Karl also decides to disclose his meeting with Frederick Meinberg to the head of security at the German embassy in Bern, falsely claiming a professional obligation—a foolish lie that places him in grave danger. However, the historical authenticity of the story as a whole and the inspiring resoluteness of its protagonist still make for a thrilling read. 

An often engaging look at Germany in the final throes of Hitler’s rule, despite some flaws in its execution.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4990-6781-1

Page Count: 356

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

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Greed, love, and extrasensory abilities combine in two middling mysteries.

LABYRINTH

Coulter’s treasured FBI agents take on two cases marked by danger and personal involvement.

Dillon Savitch and his wife, Lacey Sherlock, have special abilities that have served them well in law enforcement (Paradox, 2018, etc.). But that doesn't prevent Sherlock’s car from hitting a running man after having been struck by a speeding SUV that runs a red light. The runner, though clearly injured, continues on his way and disappears. Not so the SUV driver, a security engineer for the Bexholt Group, which has ties to government agencies. Sherlock’s own concussion causes memory loss so severe that she doesn’t recognize Savitch or remember their son, Sean. The whole incident seems more suspicious when a blood test from the splatter of the man Sherlock hit reveals that he’s Justice Cummings, an analyst for the CIA. The agency’s refusal to cooperate makes Savitch certain that Bexholt is involved in a deep-laid plot. Meanwhile, Special Agent Griffin Hammersmith is visiting friends who run a cafe in the touristy Virginia town of Gaffers Ridge. Hammersmith, who has psychic abilities, is taken aback when he hears in his mind a woman’s cry for help. Reporter Carson DeSilva, who came to the area to interview a Nobel Prize winner, also has psychic abilities, and she overhears the thoughts of Rafer Bodine, a young man who has apparently kidnapped and possibly murdered three teenage girls. Unluckily, she blurts out her thoughts, and she’s snatched and tied up in a cellar by Bodine. Bodine may be a killer, but he’s also the nephew of the sheriff and the son of the local bigwig. So the sheriff arrests Hammersmith and refuses to accept his FBI credentials. Bodine's mother has psychic powers strong enough to kill, but she meets her match in Hammersmith, DeSilva, Savitch, and Sherlock.

Greed, love, and extrasensory abilities combine in two middling mysteries.

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-9365-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Fans of smart horror will sink their teeth into this one.

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THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB'S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES

Things are about to get bloody for a group of Charleston housewives.

In 1988, the scariest thing in former nurse Patricia Campbell’s life is showing up to book club, since she hasn’t read the book. It’s hard to get any reading done between raising two kids, Blue and Korey, picking up after her husband, Carter, a psychiatrist, and taking care of her live-in mother-in-law, Miss Mary, who seems to have dementia. It doesn’t help that the books chosen by the Literary Guild of Mt. Pleasant are just plain boring. But when fellow book-club member Kitty gives Patricia a gloriously trashy true-crime novel, Patricia is instantly hooked, and soon she’s attending a very different kind of book club with Kitty and her friends Grace, Slick, and Maryellen. She has a full plate at home, but Patricia values her new friendships and still longs for a bit of excitement. When James Harris moves in down the street, the women are intrigued. Who is this handsome night owl, and why does Miss Mary insist that she knows him? A series of horrific events stretches Patricia’s nerves and her Southern civility to the breaking point. (A skin-crawling scene involving a horde of rats is a standout.) She just knows James is up to no good, but getting anyone to believe her is a Sisyphean feat. After all, she’s just a housewife. Hendrix juxtaposes the hypnotic mundanity of suburbia (which has a few dark underpinnings of its own) against an insidious evil that has taken root in Patricia’s insular neighborhood. It’s gratifying to see her grow from someone who apologizes for apologizing to a fiercely brave woman determined to do the right thing—hopefully with the help of her friends. Hendrix (We Sold Our Souls, 2018, etc.) cleverly sprinkles in nods to well-established vampire lore, and the fact that he’s a master at conjuring heady 1990s nostalgia is just the icing on what is his best book yet.

Fans of smart horror will sink their teeth into this one.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68369-143-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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