A fun, fantastical adventure in historical revisionism.

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Prince of Tyrants

Marcellus’ (Jubal’s Gold, 2014, etc.) thriller considers the possibility that Hitler did not, in fact, commit suicide.

The story opens on Oct. 5, 2014, with Paul Keasler, a 93-year-old German, admiring his secret stash of Nazi memorabilia. It’s quickly revealed that Keasler’s true identity is Otto Beck, a former Nazi still faithful to Hitler. He began a journal in 1945, right after he was assigned to work closely with Hitler on a special project. While Keasler thumbs through the book, an assassin breaks into his home and kills him. That assassin belongs to a secret organization called Nakam (the Hebrew word for vengeance) devoted to hunting down Nazis who escaped Germany—and punishment—at the end of World War II. FBI Special Agent Frazier is assigned to the case and recruits the help of professor Michael Grayson, an expert on all things Nazi. With the help of Angela Brown, a young woman raised by Keasler but unaware of his nefarious background, Grayson tries to piece together the puzzle of the murder and its broader, historical implications. Alongside the narrative are excerpts from Beck’s journal, which discloses a plot to fake Hitler’s death before being trapped by invading Russians. Interestingly, Grayson always suspected this was true, but he lacked sufficient evidence to prove it. Now that they’re in possession of the journal—Keasler had put it back into a hidden drawer before his demise—Grayson and Angela are zealously pursued by Nakam vigilantes, who have a deadly agenda of their own. Flashes of violence punctuate the briskly paced action; however, while readers will never want for clarity, dialogue can be stiff, even halting: “ ‘I don’t like this,’ he whispered. ‘Just walk, don’t run anymore and act normal.’ ‘Normal? I don’t know what that is anymore!’ she replied.” The novel revolves around an outlandish historical hypothesis—what if Hitler got away and still lives?—but sometimes that outlandishness pushes the envelope even further: might there be a treasure map in that journal? As such, the plot aims for—and hits—entertainment rather than stark realism.

A fun, fantastical adventure in historical revisionism.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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