Thrills aplenty as readers await the next installment of this well-researched series.



In this follow-up to The Burning Chambers, (2019) Mosse’s characters endure the horrors of the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre, in which the Huguenots—members of the French Protestant minority—were attacked by Catholics.

Minou Reydon, the Huguenot protagonist of Chambers, and her husband, Piet, are now, in 1572, the nobility in residence at Château de Puivert in Languedoc after having wrested it from a usurper. Minou’s entire extended family lives in the castle, including her brother, Aimeric, sister, Alis, and her Aunt Salvadora. Minou and Piet have two children, precocious 7-year-old Marta and toddler Jean-Jacques. The family’s idyll is about to be interrupted, though. Piet’s former friend Vidal, now a Catholic cardinal, is scheming to carry out grudges against both Minou and Piet, one long-standing and one very recent: Vidal has suspicions about Piet’s lineage that he is determined to both confirm and conceal. The Reydons’ troubles begin when they leave Puivert to attend a royal wedding in Paris. Marguerite, the Catholic daughter of Catherine de’ Medici, is to marry Henri, the Huguenot king of Navarre, who will one day accede to the throne of France. Many hope that the match will signal a truce in the religious strife that has rocked France for decades. However, certain renegade Catholics, led by the Duke of Guise and abetted by Vidal, plan a limited strike on key Huguenots in town for the wedding. But the violence spreads until a mob has murdered thousands. Minou, Piet, their son, and Salvadora manage to escape but, through a profoundly unlucky turn of events, leave Marta behind. This act will test Minou and Piet’s marital bond as, in exile from France, they establish a new life in Amsterdam. Mosse keeps a firm grip on the extremely complex Reformation history in which her characters are enmeshed. The role of Vidal in the plot is less successfully executed. The aging and ailing prelate appears too overtly crazy to fulfill his intended role as mastermind and nemesis. And there may be too many minutely described stabbings for some tastes.

Thrills aplenty as readers await the next installment of this well-researched series.

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20218-5

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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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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Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.


Thriller writer Baldacci (A Minute to Midnight, 2019, etc.) launches a new detective series starring World War II combat vet Aloysius Archer.

In 1949, Archer is paroled from Carderock Prison (he was innocent) and must report regularly to his parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree (she’s “damn fine-looking”). Parole terms forbid his visiting bars or loose women, which could become a problem. Trouble starts when businessman Hank Pittleman offers Archer $100 to recover a ’47 Cadillac that’s collateral for a debt owed by Lucas Tuttle, who readily agrees he owes the money. But Tuttle wants his daughter Jackie back—she’s Pittleman’s girlfriend, and she won’t return to Daddy. Archer finds the car, but it’s been torched. With no collateral to collect, he may have to return his hundred bucks. Meanwhile, Crabtree gets Archer the only job available, butchering hogs at the slaughterhouse. He’d killed plenty of men in combat, and now he needs peace. The Pittleman job doesn’t provide that peace, but at least it doesn’t involve bashing hogs’ brains in. People wind up dead and Archer becomes a suspect. So he noses around and shows that he might have the chops to be a good private investigator, a shamus. This is an era when gals have gams, guys say dang and keep extra Lucky Strikes in their hatbands, and a Lady Liberty half-dollar buys a good meal. The dialogue has a '40s noir feel: “And don’t trust nobody.…I don’t care how damn pretty they are.” There’s adult entertainment at the Cat’s Meow, cheap grub at the Checkered Past, and just enough clichés to prove that no one’s highfalutin. Readers will like Archer. He’s a talented man who enjoys detective stories, won’t keep ill-gotten gains, and respects women. All signs suggest a sequel where he hangs out a shamus shingle.

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5056-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

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