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GENTLEMEN FORMERLY DRESSED

Rowland’s determined attempts to open British eyes to the gathering storm combine mystery, rousing adventure, and chance...

A wealthy Australian artist with leftist leanings runs up against the old boy network while hunting a murderer in 1933 England.

When Rowland Sinclair went to Germany at the behest of his elder brother, Wilfred, along with his best friends—fellow artist Clyde Watson Jones, Jewish poet Elias “Milton” Isaacs, and stunning sculptress Edna Higgins—they barely escaped with their lives (Paving the New Road, 2018). Rowland’s arm was broken and a swastika burned into his chest. Ensconced in the penthouse at Claridge’s, Rowland is surprised to learn that his brother is back in London, too. Although Wilfred is furious with both Rowland, who’s wanted in Germany for murder, and himself for sending his younger brother into danger, he agrees to find someone important to listen to Rowland’s accounts of Nazi horrors. A meeting Wilfred sets up with Lord Pierrepont turns into a disaster when they find the peer at his club with Allie Dawe, a hysterically screaming young woman covered in blood. Pierrepont is dressed in a woman’s nightgown, heavily made up, and clutching the sword that’s killed him. Allie, Pierrepont’s niece and secretary, is arrested for his murder. With Wilfred off in London for a conference and everyone around him eager to hush up the truth about Pierrepont’s murder, Rowland refuses to see Allie convicted. His friends panic when Rowland is kidnapped off the street until they learn that his abductor is his second cousin, Rear Adm. Sinclair, aka “Quex,” who thinks Rowland is wasting his life. As they mix with members of every class, Rowland and his friends are threatened by British Blackshirts in their attempt to free Allie and convince the aristocrats, who are often sympathetic to the Nazi cause, to wake up to the approaching danger.

Rowland’s determined attempts to open British eyes to the gathering storm combine mystery, rousing adventure, and chance meetings with eminent figures from Churchill to Evelyn Waugh.

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4642-0693-1

Page Count: 334

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

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An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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