Bonifante’s goofy charm, keen self-perception and wily ambition make for quite the escapade.

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DEEP IN THE CUT

A bored but bright lawyer gets caught up in murder in Worlde’s thriller.

Immigration attorney Siskal “Siskie” Bonifante is divorced and lonely in the nation’s capital, bored by representing hard-luck Latinos who are just this side of deportation. He’ll also be the first to tell you he’s fat. Bonifante has a new clientele—young Russian women who entered the country as nannies—and a recently deceased friend: an aging immigration judge who was murdered just before they were due to meet. It seems the dead judge was involved in a porn film ring, and Bonifante is compelled to find out who killed him, especially after he meets the judge’s sexy widow. Then, one of the nannies and several other clients turn up missing or dead. Can Bonifante wrap his head around the mystery before he’s arrested, murdered by the shadowy Black Priest or finished with his next bottle of Corona? As expected, the author—a retired immigration court judge who began his career representing asylum applicants at the Central American Refugee Center in Washington, DC—has an impressive grasp of immigration law. Also impressive are his colorful portraits of la Raza, the Central American immigrants who populate this tale, including Bonifante’s ex–brother-in-law (a Latino FBI agent) and the hookers, housekeepers and clients who deal with the lawyer every day. Readers will be drawn to Siskie despite his mistakes and confusion and the tedious turn-by-turn driving directions and parking information given seemingly every time he gets behind the wheel of his Beamer. The many food and drink references match him wellthat’s just who Bonifante is—but Worlde’s occasional wooden delivery of back story in exposition and dialogue can slow things down at times. It’s a shame, too, that some errors creep in—like the misspelling of quinceañerabut they don’t ruin the party.

Bonifante’s goofy charm, keen self-perception and wily ambition make for quite the escapade.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 293

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2012

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

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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

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A heartwarming portrait of a broken heart finding a little healing magic.

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IN FIVE YEARS

After acing a job interview and accepting a marriage proposal, Dannie Kohan has had the perfect day. That is, until she awakens to find herself five years in the future with a completely different man.

Just one hour in that alternate reality shakes Dannie to her core. After all, highly ambitious Dannie and her boyfriend, David, have plotted out their lives in minute detail, and the sexy man in her dream—was it a dream?—is most certainly not in the script. Serle (The Dinner List, 2018) deftly spins these magical threads into Dannie’s perfectly structured life, leaving not only Dannie, but also the reader wondering whether Dannie time traveled or hallucinated. Her best friend, Bella, would delight in the story given that she thinks Dannie is much too straight-laced, and some spicy dreaming might push Dannie to find someone more passionate than David. Unfortunately, glamorous Bella is in Europe with her latest lover. Ever pragmatic, Dannie consults her therapist, who almost concurs that it was likely a dream, and throws herself into her work. Pleased to have landed the job at a prestigious law firm, Dannie easily loses her worries in litigation. Soon four and a half years have passed with no wedding date set, and Bella is back in the U.S. with a new man in her life. A man who turns out to be literally the man of Dannie’s dream. The sheer fact of Aaron Gregory’s existence forces Dannie to reevaluate her trust in the laws of physics as well as her decision to marry David, a decision that seems less believable with each passing day. And as the architecture of Dannie’s overplanned life disintegrates, Serle twists and twines the remnants of her dream into a surprising future.

A heartwarming portrait of a broken heart finding a little healing magic.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3744-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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