by Steven Saylor ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 20, 2018
The 16th volume in Saylor’s Roma Sub Rosa series (The Triumph of Caesar, 2008, etc.) uses the reader’s foreknowledge of...
Veteran Roman investigator Gordianus tries to ease the fears of an obsessed Julius Caesar by locating the cabal that may be plotting against him.
On March 10, 44 B.C.E., ancient Rome is abuzz with the warning that Spurinna the haruspex delivered to Caesar a few weeks ago. Though he’s been frozen out of the emperor’s inner circle, Consul Cicero has a foreboding and seeks the guidance of venerable Gordianus, a retired “Finder,” in ferreting out the identities of possible conspirators. Gordianus, who narrates in a leisurely first person, is intrigued but doesn’t commit until Caesar himself summons him. None other than the scandalous Cleopatra is in attendance when Gordianus agrees to help by discreetly observing suspicious characters. He begins at the colorfully named Salacious Tavern, where the poet Cinna verbally spars with him at length before revealing an ominous message scratched into the sand at his own doorstep: “Beware.” Gordianus’ wife, Bethesda, and his daughter, Diana, become his sounding boards, mostly pouring water on the alarming conspiratorial fires he reveals to them. A visit to Spurinna confirms that he’s no threat to Caesar. But Brutus is another matter entirely. His evasiveness gives Gordianus pause. Nor can he get a read on Antony or Cassius, the latter seen only briefly. Spoiler alert: the novel takes us all the way to March 23.The 16th volume in Saylor’s Roma Sub Rosa series (The Triumph of Caesar, 2008, etc.) uses the reader’s foreknowledge of history to create a special kind of suspense. Its slow pace and abundant period detail tantalize, as Gordianus has multiple near misses with the truth.
Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2018
Page Count: 400
Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2017
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017
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by Kathy Reichs ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 17, 2020
Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.
Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.
A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.
Pub Date: March 17, 2020
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020
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by Kristin Hannah ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 3, 2015
Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.
Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II.
In 1995, an elderly unnamed widow is moving into an Oregon nursing home on the urging of her controlling son, Julien, a surgeon. This trajectory is interrupted when she receives an invitation to return to France to attend a ceremony honoring passeurs: people who aided the escape of others during the war. Cut to spring, 1940: Viann has said goodbye to husband Antoine, who's off to hold the Maginot line against invading Germans. She returns to tending her small farm, Le Jardin, in the Loire Valley, teaching at the local school and coping with daughter Sophie’s adolescent rebellion. Soon, that world is upended: The Germans march into Paris and refugees flee south, overrunning Viann’s land. Her long-estranged younger sister, Isabelle, who has been kicked out of multiple convent schools, is sent to Le Jardin by Julien, their father in Paris, a drunken, decidedly unpaternal Great War veteran. As the depredations increase in the occupied zone—food rationing, systematic looting, and the billeting of a German officer, Capt. Beck, at Le Jardin—Isabelle’s outspokenness is a liability. She joins the Resistance, volunteering for dangerous duty: shepherding downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain. Code-named the Nightingale, Isabelle will rescue many before she's captured. Meanwhile, Viann’s journey from passive to active resistance is less dramatic but no less wrenching. Hannah vividly demonstrates how the Nazis, through starvation, intimidation and barbarity both casual and calculated, demoralized the French, engineering a community collapse that enabled the deportations and deaths of more than 70,000 Jews. Hannah’s proven storytelling skills are ideally suited to depicting such cataclysmic events, but her tendency to sentimentalize undermines the gravitas of this tale.Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.
Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015
Page Count: 448
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014
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