A penetrating spy story full of celebrities and unsung heroes.

The Emperor and the Spy


In this debut historical novel, Katz pulls back the curtain on real-life American master spy Sidney Forrester Mashbir and his close relationship with Japan’s royal family before, during, and after World War II.

Mashbir first makes his mark as a spy during the Mexican-American Border War, hunting German terrorists with a clandestine style of diplomacy, organization, and information-gathering that would go on to shape the foundation of the CIA. As a true patriot with a deep understanding of foreign cultures and languages, he’s sent to Japan to set up a spy ring, keeping an eye on the country’s growing military power and colonial overtures. He falls in love with the country while exploring its language, customs, and numerous martial arts, eventually becoming a self-styled American samurai. He cultivates a relationship with the wise Prince Tokugawa, one of Emperor Hirohito’s closest mentors, and this unprecedented access would allow Mashbir to befriend the emperor as both sought peace in an era of inevitable war. During WWII, he shows compassion and respect for Japan, bringing numerous second-generation Japanese-Americans, called nisei, out of internment camps to work as translators and helping negotiate the country’s surrender. Katz crafted this look at Mashbir’s life and career from a series of documents, letters, and other resources that once belonged to the spy himself—sources that he samples but regrettably doesn’t share in full. The author packs the story with historical events that took place outside of WWII, from a German act of sabotage in New Jersey to the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and even a near-assassination of filmmaker Charlie Chaplin in Japan. He effectively populates the novel with other historical icons to show just how influential the spy was, such as Gen. George Patton, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Charles Lindbergh, and even Hedy Lamarr, with whom Mashbir must turn down a one-night stand in a true test of his mettle. Katz also gives the story a tragic element, making plain Mashbir’s sacrifices as he loses family and lovers; at one point, he’s even suspected of being a double agent.

A penetrating spy story full of celebrities and unsung heroes.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9903349-4-1

Page Count: 526

Publisher: Horizon Productions

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.


Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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