A commendable detective story and an immaculate survivor’s tale of the Nazi regime.

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Death in Twilight

A MURDER IN THE MIDST OF A HOLOCAUST

In Fields’ debut historical detective novel, a Jewish smuggler’s investigation into a ghetto police officer’s murder in Nazi-occupied Poland exposes him to the horrors of the Holocaust.

In 1941 Poland, a police officer is found dead in the street. He had been working for the Judenrat—Jewish officials enlisted by the occupying Germans—and they look to Aaron Kaminski, a smuggler and an experienced former policeman, to look into the crime. He reluctantly agrees, but he’s unprepared for the atrocities he witnesses, including German soldiers gunning down people in public. Every person Kaminski questions in the course of his investigation—including the officer’s partner, one of his roommates and a rabbi at a synagogue he frequented—leads to reminders of the Nazi presence in Poland. Kaminski is accosted by German soldiers and, at one point, barely escapes a massacre. He also has a mounting suspicion that someone’s following him. What begins as a detective story with a World War II backdrop, however, slowly becomes a story of survival. When Aaron is later captured and tortured, he witnesses the Holocaust firsthand in chilling detail as he tries to stay alive long enough to find the killer. As people steal food and clothing to combat starvation and the blistering cold, the novel is often bleak, but even its darkest elements have glints of optimism; for example, Aaron occasionally has romantic interludes with his common-law wife, Yelena, a smuggler who lives separately from him. The prose resonates with vitality; at one point, Aaron says that his investigation of a single murder is like “looking for a killer in a graveyard,” and “word of mouth” is called “rumor’s pretty cousin.” Although the main murder mystery finally gets resolved, Aaron’s story is left open, to great effect.

A commendable detective story and an immaculate survivor’s tale of the Nazi regime.

Pub Date: April 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-0615732091

Page Count: 318

Publisher: Ars Gratia Pecuniam

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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