Action fans will find plenty to love here, from gunfights and murder sprees to moral dilemmas.

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Murderer's Row

A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL

In Keating’s (The River, 2014, etc.) latest thriller, the pastor/man of action returns, this time caught up in murder and deceit surrounding an independent baseball league in New York.

Pastor Stephen Grant is one of the chaplains asked by billionaire and minor league baseball team owner Mike Vanacore to pray with the players before home games. Mike’s also hired a security team to extract religiously persecuted Dawud Wasem from Iraq so he can convert to Christianity and join Mike’s team in the New York Summer League of Professional Baseball. But a fight over the construction of new ballparks may be the reason the Streit brothers, working for an unknown party, are snatching people for info before brutally murdering them. And when someone enters the U.S. for revenge regarding Dawud’s escape, Stephen, a former SEAL and CIA assassin, may have to pick up his guns once again. The author packs a lot into this frantically paced novel: the Streits are killing people left and right; Stephen’s economist wife, Jennifer, tries to prevent the McGowans from losing their land to the ballparks; and a raft of action sequences and baseball games are thrown into the mix. The multiple villains and twists raise the stakes. As a recurring protagonist, Stephen does surprisingly little. The formidable Paige Caldwell leads the security team in the hunt for the murderers, while the pastor’s most significant contribution doesn’t really happen until near the end, when he races to thwart yet another assassination. Stephen’s even outshined as a preacher: it’s Pastor Zack Charmichael who counsels one of the troubled baseball players. Regardless, Stephen remains an engaging and multifaceted character: he may still use, when necessary, the violence associated with his former professions, but he at least acknowledges his shortcomings—and prays about it.

Action fans will find plenty to love here, from gunfights and murder sprees to moral dilemmas.

Pub Date: June 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5141-3761-1

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 24, 2015

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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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THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS

These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

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