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THE ACCOMPLICE

A fast-paced, atmospheric thriller that works less well in reflecting on the banality of evil.

In 1962, the year of Adolf Eichmann's execution, CIA analyst Aaron Wiley, nephew of famed Nazi hunter Max Weill, tracks notorious concentration camp torturer Otto Schramm to Argentina—where Aaron becomes involved with Schramm's daughter.

Max, a Holocaust survivor who was on the cover of Time magazine with his "old rival" Simon Wiesenthal, refuses to believe official accounts that Schramm is dead. Maybe another evil Nazi, but not the one with whom he once studied medicine and the one who conducted hideous experiments on children at Auschwitz. Not the Mengele associate who chatted with Max at the camp knowing Max's son was being led into the gas chamber. The Nazi hunter's skepticism is borne out when, joined by Aaron at an outdoor cafe in Hamburg, he spots Schramm, whom he recognizes from the way he walks. Max's failing health doesn't allow him to pursue Schramm, aka Helmut Braun, after his prey slips away. Reluctantly, Aaron takes his uncle's place. It doesn't take him long to get introduced to the daughter, Hanna, in Buenos Aires. Quickly attracted to her, he finds himself in the untenable position of secretly tailing her when not enjoying her considerable charms. Fueled by brilliant scenes of dialogue between Aaron and Hanna, who, at considerable psychological cost, has come to accept her father's evil past, Kanon's latest sophisticated thriller is teeming with suspense. Surrounded by aggressively anti-Semitic acquaintances of Hanna's who are hoping for a Fourth Reich and working with British and Israeli operatives with conflicting agendas, Aaron is an endangered odd man out. As fast as the pages turn, though, the novel stumbles with less-than-convincing character developments and plot turns. While elements of the Casablanca formula work well at first, ultimately they don't.

A fast-paced, atmospheric thriller that works less well in reflecting on the banality of evil.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2142-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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DEVOLUTION

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z(2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE NIGHTINGALE

Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II.

In 1995, an elderly unnamed widow is moving into an Oregon nursing home on the urging of her controlling son, Julien, a surgeon. This trajectory is interrupted when she receives an invitation to return to France to attend a ceremony honoring passeurs: people who aided the escape of others during the war. Cut to spring, 1940: Viann has said goodbye to husband Antoine, who's off to hold the Maginot line against invading Germans. She returns to tending her small farm, Le Jardin, in the Loire Valley, teaching at the local school and coping with daughter Sophie’s adolescent rebellion. Soon, that world is upended: The Germans march into Paris and refugees flee south, overrunning Viann’s land. Her long-estranged younger sister, Isabelle, who has been kicked out of multiple convent schools, is sent to Le Jardin by Julien, their father in Paris, a drunken, decidedly unpaternal Great War veteran. As the depredations increase in the occupied zone—food rationing, systematic looting, and the billeting of a German officer, Capt. Beck, at Le Jardin—Isabelle’s outspokenness is a liability. She joins the Resistance, volunteering for dangerous duty: shepherding downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain. Code-named the Nightingale, Isabelle will rescue many before she's captured. Meanwhile, Viann’s journey from passive to active resistance is less dramatic but no less wrenching. Hannah vividly demonstrates how the Nazis, through starvation, intimidation and barbarity both casual and calculated, demoralized the French, engineering a community collapse that enabled the deportations and deaths of more than 70,000 Jews. Hannah’s proven storytelling skills are ideally suited to depicting such cataclysmic events, but her tendency to sentimentalize undermines the gravitas of this tale.

Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-57722-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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