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THE HUNT FOR THE PEGGY C

A WORLD WAR II MARITIME THRILLER

A captivating, action-packed thriller that’s historically astute.

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In this World War II novel, an American captain of a cargo ship gets paid to smuggle a Jewish family to safety and ends up doggedly pursued by Nazis.

Jake Rogers is the captain of an aging tramp steamer, a cargo ship he uses to transport often questionable merchandise for equally suspect clients. He candidly declares his amorality: “I get paid for what I do. Duty and honor have nothing to do with it.” While in Amsterdam, he’s given his most peculiar shipment yet, a Jewish family of six: Uncle Levy, a rabbi; his three young children; and two sisters, Miriam and Truus, his nieces. Rogers is paid by Miriam’s father, Mr. Maduro, to convey the family to Gibraltar, a dangerous mission given that the “heartless sea” is swarmed by “trigger-happy U-boat captains,” a perilous situation thrillingly portrayed by Miller. The task is further complicated when Rogers’ boat, the Peggy C, is boarded by three German soldiers in search of contraband—he has no choice but to overtake them and keep them prisoner. In addition, the Peggy Cis tirelessly pursued by an ambitious U-boat commander, Oberleutnant zur See Viktor Brauer, a zealous Nazi angling to climb the ranks. Much of the plot is cinematically formulaic—Rogers is a troubled loner with a dark past who gradually comes to experience a moral transformation, partly because of his growing affection for Miriam. She requites his love, blandly communicating her feelings: “You are a very strange, very wonderful man, Captain Jake Rogers. I have never met anyone like you. You are not afraid.” But the action—and there is no shortage of it—is electrifying. Further, the author’s knowledge of the relevant historical material—in particular, the naval aspects—is extraordinary. While Miller’s novel has its shortcomings, it is still an intelligent and exciting read.

A captivating, action-packed thriller that’s historically astute.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1610885706

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Bancroft Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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HAPPY PLACE

A wistfully nostalgic look at endings, beginnings, and loving the people who will always have your back.

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Exes pretend they’re still together for the sake of their friends on their annual summer vacation.

Wyn Connor and Harriet Kilpatrick were the perfect couple—until Wyn dumped Harriet for reasons she still doesn’t fully understand. They’ve been part of the same boisterous friend group since college, and they know that their breakup will devastate the others and make things more than a little awkward. So they keep it a secret from their friends and families—in fact, Harriet barely even admits it to herself, focusing instead on her grueling hours as a surgical resident. She’s ready for a vacation at her happy place—the Maine cottage she and her friends visit every summer. But (surprise!) Wyn is there too, and he and Harriet have to share a (very romantic) room and a bed. Telling the truth about their breakup is out of the question, because the cottage is up for sale, and this is the group’s last hurrah. Determined to make sure everyone has the perfect last trip, Harriet and Wyn resolve to fake their relationship for the week. The problem with this plan, of course, is that Harriet still has major feelings for Wyn—feelings that only get stronger as they pretend to be blissfully in love. As always, Henry’s dialogue is sparkling and the banter between characters is snappy and hilarious. Wyn and Harriet’s relationship, shown both in the past and the present, feels achingly real. Their breakup, as well as their complicated relationships with their own families, adds a twinge of melancholy, as do the relatable growing pains of a group of friends whose lives are taking them in different directions.

A wistfully nostalgic look at endings, beginnings, and loving the people who will always have your back.

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 9780593441275

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023

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