Once again, Gaus probes the tension between the self-reliance of the Amish world and the urgencies of the English world with...

THE NAMES OF OUR TEARS

The shooting of a teenage girl rocks the Amish community of Holmes County, Ohio.

Maybe it isn’t just the fine Coblentz chocolate that sends Mervin Byler on his seventh trip this spring to the widow Stutzman’s shop in Walnut Creek. On his way, he encounters the unimaginable: the body of 19-year-old Ruth Zook, shot through the head and lying beneath the hooves of her terrified horse. Just back from the Amish settlement of Pinecraft, near Sarasota, Ruth has spent the past two days in her room, speaking to no one but Emma Wengerd, the shy, haunted child adopted by the Zooks after her family died in a buggy accident. Sheriff Bruce Robertson (Harmless as Doves, 2011, etc.) is desperate for a lead, but the Zooks close ranks. Even local pastor Cal Troyer fails to reach Emma, who can’t cry and can’t pray, but can only sit wordlessly, too angry at God to speak. When fish start to die from the cocaine Ruth dumped from her suitcase into the Zooks’ pond, Robertson knows that it’s drug dealers he’s looking for. But even when Fannie Helmuth, another Amish girl, confesses that she too brought a suitcase full of drugs back from Pinecraft, he has little to go on. All Fannie knows is that she gave the suitcase to an angry-looking woman with dark hair. Frustrated, the sheriff sends Deputy Ricky Niell to Florida to find Jodie Tapp, the young Mennonite waitress who gave Fannie her suitcase. But even if he finds her, can Jodie help the Holmes County Police identify a murderer over 500 miles away?

Once again, Gaus probes the tension between the self-reliance of the Amish world and the urgencies of the English world with depth and sensitivity.

Pub Date: May 28, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-452-29819-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Plume

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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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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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

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THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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