An exciting, if excessively labyrinthine, tale of white-collar theft and historical tyranny.


Four Equations

A financial thriller that details a fraud that connects back to the Nazis’ persecution of Jews.

During the global financial crisis, a bank in the Cayman Islands goes belly up and looks for a bankruptcy liquidator to help craft favorable terms for its dissolution. U.S. Treasury Secretary George Brennan volunteers his nephew Jack, hoping that he’ll pass along information about the bank’s ties to Chicago organized crime and Colombian drug cartels. Jack begrudgingly accepts the assignment but becomes more reluctant when he learns of the country’s ironclad secrecy laws. Then he visits his grandmother’s old friend in Hungary, Dr. Hans Arbenz, a brilliant Nobel Prize–winning chemist. Arbenz tells him a story about his own friend, Dr. Peter Gombos, a Nobel-laureate physicist, who died in an accidental explosion during Hungary’s Nazi occupation. Gombos’ wife, Svetlana, painted a portrait of her husband in 1943, and Jack later stumbles upon the painting while attending an art auction. He buys it and shows it to Arbenz, who observes four equations on a blackboard in the picture’s background; the chemist deduces that the equations are codes that conceal three bank-account numbers. Jack suspects that the bank he’s helping steward into bankruptcy holds those accounts and that it intends to enrich itself at Gombos’ heirs’ expense. Jack must decipher the formulas and locate Gombos’ descendants—both daunting tasks. Meanwhile, he strikes up a partnership and torrid romance with Elize Haemmerle, an auditor from a Swiss foundation. Landori (Mayhem on the Danube, 2012, etc.) does a marvelous job of weaving an intricately detailed and suspenseful mystery. He’s at his best when evoking the horrors of Nazi aggression against Jews, and the themes of remembrance and moral responsibility recur vividly. At one point, for example, Gombos’ former student, now an old man, pithily explains why he tells stories of Nazi persecution at every opportunity: “To bear witness. To make sure these things don’t happen again.” The plot can be maddeningly complex at times, bordering on convoluted, and its plausibility is sometimes undermined by coincidences. However, it still unfurls briskly and intelligently, with an astute sense of historical awareness.

An exciting, if excessively labyrinthine, tale of white-collar theft and historical tyranny.

Pub Date: March 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4602-6625-0

Page Count: 342

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2016

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A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.


A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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