A gripping and densely packed thriller dramatizing the Allied Italian campaign.



From the World War Two Trilogy series , Vol. 2

A sprawling historical novel examines the occupation and liberation of Rome during World War II.

This second book in Marquis’ (Bodyguard of Deception, 2016, etc.) trilogy focusing on some of the major events of World War II concentrates on the Nazi occupation of Rome from 1943 to 1944 and the liberation of the Eternal City by the Allies in June 1944. Like its predecessor, the work creates a broad-canvas narrative by weaving together a handful of separate storylines, in this case chiefly those of an American soldier, an Italian freedom fighter, a German colonel, and the pope himself. The pontiff in question is that controversial, so-called “Hitler’s pope” Pius XII, here portrayed with refreshing complexity as a man of fluid principles caught between an array of much stronger forces (“the thought of taking Hitler” publicly to task “in a high-stakes manner made him feel older than his sixty-six years”). U.S. Special Services operative John Bridger is a fairly standard-issue action hero whom Marquis nonetheless manages to imbue with some nuance, and the author is likewise successful in giving Italian Resistance fighter Teresa Di Domenico more personality than her central-casting role necessarily warrants. But the book’s standout character is SS Col. Wilhelm Hollmann, “the furthest thing from a rabid Nazi.” The shrewdly drawn portrait depicts a complicated German whose patriotism clashes frequently with his duties. Hollmann, who feels “no animosity whatsoever towards the Jews,” lambastes a Gestapo chief for extorting gold from Rome’s Jewish community (“Despite the fact that they paid your fiendish ransom, the Jews are still going to be sent off to their deaths”). Marquis brings these main characters and a host of minor ones together in a propulsive, fast-paced story that ranges from the battlefields in the struggle to wrest Rome from Nazi forces to the delicate, behind-the-scenes maneuverings conducted by the pope to placate the Germans long enough to give Vatican-sponsored efforts to unseat Hitler a chance to come to fruition. Marquis has a deft ear for dialogue and a very skillful hand at pacing, particularly when narrating military action sequences. The panoramic impression of his multiple character arcs is reminiscent of Herman Wouk’s The Winds of War in the way they put human faces on the era’s history.

A gripping and densely packed thriller dramatizing the Allied Italian campaign. 

Pub Date: Jan. 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943593-03-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Mount Sopris Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.


High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

Did you like this book?