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Combining earlier interests (France and subterfuge), veteran Daley (Nowhere to Run, 1996, etc.) offers an ably written account of Jewish refugee intrigue during WWII. Downed near the village of Le Lignon in Nazi-occupied central France, American pilot Davey Gannon is rescued and cared for at the rectory of pastor AndrÇ Favert, the moral leader of his community and friend to those in need. Among them is Rachel, a German-Jewish 18-year-old who has come to seem a daughter to Favert. A ward in the rectory, Rachel tends to Gannon’s wounds. Pretty nurse, hero from the skies, take it from there. Gruber, the Nazi commander who’s been instructed to fill his quota of Jews for deportation, sees Favert as a thorn in his side and schemes to arrest him. The pastor is sent to prison, but the persistent efforts of his stoic wife set him free. As the story progresses, the noose tightens around Favert’s secret community, unravels, and tightens again. Members of the French Resistance make appearances, as do local police torn in their loyalties, morally delinquent priests, and assorted menacing Gestapo soldiers. Davey and Rachel depart Le Lignon for their own safety, and—with Favert’s blessing—escape back to England via a clandestine rescue airplane. Daley knows this landscape well and evokes it in clean, sensible prose. The weighing-the-options meditations of Favert and others, however, can seem soggy; they interrupt a vigorous, lively plot less interested in political cruelty than in moral ambiguity and tight action sequences. Smarter than the sun at the beach, but probably too thin for the lamp in the reading room.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-375-50178-9
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Villard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1999


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