by James R. Benn ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 1, 2020
Benn's latest caper has fascinating historical roots and nicely balances action and investigation.
Did the drowsy patient fall from the clock tower, did he jump, or was he pushed?
Narrator Billy Boyle, captain with the American Allied Expeditionary Force and frequent sleuth, finds himself a patient at Saint Albans Pauper Lunatic Asylum in England, with little recollection of how he got there and only slightly clearer memories of his sidekick, Kaz. Both Boyle’s lover, Diana, and Kaz’s sister, Angelika, have been taken to the Nazi prison camp of Ravensbrück. A moment after Billy spots two men in the asylum’s clock tower, one of them—Thomas Holland, the only survivor of a unit that was captured by the Germans and repeatedly tortured—flies through the air to his death. Billy grows suspicious under the aggressive questioning of Dr. Robinson, the head of the asylum. He searches the facility until he finds Kaz, who suggests that Billy break into Robinson’s office, where Billy pores over Holland’s file. Strangely, Robinson’s notes on Holland are sparse. But both Kaz and Holland have been treated with Robinson’s unusual “sleep cure”; could Holland’s tumble be an accidental fall? The arrival of Billy’s old pals Big Mike and Lt. Feliks Kanski, along with the no-nonsense Maj. Charles Cosgrove, provides possible reinforcements in Billy’s search for the truth. The multilayered plot leaves the asylum grounds to follow the exploits of the Special Operations Executive as well as the eponymous resistance group and a possible link to some at Saint Albans.Benn's latest caper has fascinating historical roots and nicely balances action and investigation.
Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020
Page Count: 336
Publisher: Soho Crime
Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020
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by Mitch Albom ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 14, 2023
A captivating allegory about evil, lies, and forgiveness.
Truth and deception clash in this tale of the Holocaust.
Udo Graf is proud that the Wolf has assigned him the task of expelling all 50,000 Jews from Salonika, Greece. In that city, Nico Krispis is an 11-year-old Jewish boy whose blue eyes and blond hair deceive, but whose words do not. Those who know him know he has never told a lie in his life—“Never be the one to tell lies, Nico,” his grandfather teaches him. “God is always watching.” Udo and Nico meet, and Udo decides to exploit the child’s innocence. At the train station where Jews are being jammed into cattle cars bound for Auschwitz, Udo gives Nico a yellow star to wear and persuades him to whisper among the crowd, “I heard it from a German officer. They are sending us to Poland. We will have new homes. And jobs.” The lad doesn’t know any better, so he helps persuade reluctant Jews to board the train to hell. “You were a good little liar,” Udo later tells Nico, and delights in the prospect of breaking the boy’s spirit, which is more fun and a greater challenge than killing him outright. When Nico realizes the horrific nature of what he's done, his truth-telling days are over. He becomes an inveterate liar about everything. Narrating the story is the Angel of Truth, whom according to a parable God had cast out of heaven and onto earth, where Truth shattered into billions of pieces, each to lodge in a human heart. (Obviously, many hearts have been missed.) Truth skillfully weaves together the characters, including Nico; his brother, Sebastian; Sebastian’s wife, Fannie; and the “heartless deceiver” Udo. Events extend for decades beyond World War II, until everyone’s lives finally collide in dramatic fashion. As Truth readily acknowledges, his account is loaded with twists and turns, some fortuitous and others not. Will Nico Krispis ever seek redemption? And will he find it? Author Albom’s passion shows through on every page in this well-crafted novel.A captivating allegory about evil, lies, and forgiveness.
Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2023
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023
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by Ken Follett ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 26, 2023
A treat for fans of historical fiction.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2023
New York Times Bestseller
The latest in Follett’s Kingsbridge series takes readers to a time of turbulence.
In late-18th- and early-19th-century England, Sally Clitheroe must struggle with personal tragedy in a time of great societal upheaval. After her first husband is crushed under an overloaded turnip cart, she must initially raise her son, Kit, on her own. She is an exceptionally strong woman, both physically and mentally, and is every bit a match for her second husband, Jarge Box. When he strikes his stepson, Jarge learns that he’s made a big mistake: “If you ever touch that boy again,” Sal warns, “I swear I’ll cut your throat in the middle of the night, so help me God.” Not that the young are generally respected; this is still an era when a child can be hanged for stealing 6 shillings worth of ribbon for his mother to resell for bread; when criticizing the government is a crime punishable by prison; and when two or more employees are forbidden by the 1799 Combination Act to criticize their employer. But monumental change is afoot with the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, and it’s not all good. New spinning looms require fewer people to operate them, throwing many people out of work. Luddites, followers of Ned Ludd, destroy as many of the new machines as they can, but to no avail. Lawbreakers can sometimes avoid prison by joining the army, which ties into the dramatic set piece of this lengthy novel. When Wellington confronts Bonaparte at Waterloo, the carnage is horrific as cannonballs rip bodies to shreds. Sal and her son are central to the story. They are admirable characters without any obvious faults, but the rest of the cast has many: hanging judges, greedy businessmen, thieves, adulterers, murderers, and a bishop’s aide who harbors unseemly ambition. They are all well developed and believable, and readers will love to hate some of them.A treat for fans of historical fiction.
Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023
Page Count: 752
Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023
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