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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Three Reviews

The Final Reckoning by Sam Bourne  (pseudonym of Jonathan Freedman) was mainly interesting because it was informative about events in Lithuania during WWII.

From Booklist: 
Despite his thorough disenchantment with the law and the UN, former human-rights attorney Tom Bryne agrees to return to his former workplace to handle some damage control. Headquarters security has killed an elderly British tourist, Gerald Merton, and with the UN already in the spotlight because of the arrival of a new Secretary General, officials want a quick, quiet resolution. The question on everyone’s mind: Was the victim a terrorist, or was it all a horrible mistake? It doesn’t take long for Tom to figure out that finding the answer won’t be easy: a Holocaust survivor, Merton kept shocking secrets about himself and the Nazis that some very powerful men don’t want exposed. Bourne (pseudonym for an award-winning British journalist) brings some lesser-known history into focus here, integrating brutal descriptions of Nazi terror into his modern-day thriller. If his plotting runs somewhat amok, his prose is sharp and clear, especially when he’s dealing with history. It’s also no stretch to imagine some readers diving for the history books or the Internet to find out more about the real endeavors that fueled the fictional Gerald Merton’s life. --Stephanie Zvirin 

It IS the history behind the novel that is so intriguing.   In the Author's Note, Bourne gives a little more information about the group of Holocaust survivors who sought revenge following the end of the war.  Mostly resistance fighters from the ghettoes, about 50 men and women formed a group known as the Nokmim, the Avengers.  Bourne (Freedman) also mentions nonfiction books about the group that I may decide to seek out. 

While the novel is fiction, it has a factual basis that is both informative and fascinating concerning several real incidents and real people.  Perhaps the most interesting thing for me was the Jewish photographer George Kadish who took clandestine  photographs (often through the buttonhole of his jacket using a small concealed camera) of the Kovno ghetto in Lithuania and the horror of the Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing squads) that came to the concentration camps formed from the Jews of Kovno and "shot thousands of Jewish men, women, and children, primarily in the Ninth Fort, but also in the Fourth and Seventh forts. Within six months of the German occupation of the city, the Germans and their Lithuanian collaborators had murdered half of all Jews in Kovno."
 By way of fiction, we often learn of historical incidents that we were previously unaware of. The novel was a "thriller" in some ways, but lacking in something story-wise; it is the fact that so much is based on real events and people that make me value the reading of the novel.  I learned a lot, some of which was very surprising.

Fiction.  Historical fiction, Contemporary fiction, Thriller.  2010.  423 pages.
The Fourth Day by Zoe Sharp is an action-packed thriller.  My first thought was that Charlie Fox (Charlene Foxworth) was a female Jack Reacher--a mythic kind of figure.  

From Publishers Weekly:  
In Sharp's adrenaline-packed follow-up to Third Strike, Brit Charlie Fox, a close-protection specialist (or bodyguard) now working for a Manhattan company, seeks to extricate schoolteacher Thomas Witney from Fourth Day, a cult in the desert near Los Angeles. Thomas infiltrated the cult five years earlier because he believed that Fourth Day's charismatic leader, Randall Bane, was responsible for the death of Thomas's college-age son, Liam, who perished during an ecoterrorism protest. While Charlie and her lover, Sean Meyer, manage to get Thomas out, they're unprepared for either his complete about-face on Bane or the intense interest that Homeland Security suddenly has in the cult and Thomas's insider knowledge. The relationship between Charlie and Sean has always been fraught with tension, but a startling personal revelation and Charlie's decision whether to keep this information to herself as she prepares to go undercover into Fourth Day considerably raises the emotional stakes.

Definitely a fast-paced novel, suspenseful and entertaining, yet, I  have forgotten why I turned the pages so quickly!  I'd read another in the series if I happened on it, but don't think I'd seek it out.   

Fiction.  Thriller.  2011.  448 pages.

Trespasser by Paul Doiron was OK.  I didn't dislike Mike Bowditch, nor did I particularly like him. 

Product Description:

In Paul Doiron's riveting follow-up to his Edgar Award-nominated novel, The Poacher's Son, Maine game warden Mike Bowditch's quest to find a missing woman leads him through a forest of lies in search of a killer who may have gotten away with murder once before.
    While on patrol one foggy March evening, Bowditch receives a call for help. A woman has reportedly struck a deer on a lonely coast road. When the game warden arrives on the scene, he finds blood in the road--but both the driver and the deer have vanished. And the state trooper assigned to the accident appears strangely unconcerned.
    The details of the disappearance seem eerily familiar. Seven years earlier, a jury convicted lobsterman Erland Jefferts of the rape and murder of a wealthy college student and sentenced him to life in prison. For all but his most fanatical defenders, justice was served. But when the missing woman is found brutalized in a manner that suggests Jefferts may have been framed, Bowditch receives an ominous warning from state prosecutors to stop asking questions.
    For Bowditch, whose own life was recently shattered by a horrific act of violence, doing nothing is not an option. His clandestine investigation reopens old wounds between Maine locals and rich summer residents and puts both his own life and that of the woman he loves in jeopardy. As he closes in on his quarry, he suddenly discovers how dangerous his opponents are, and how far they will go to prevent him from bringing a killer to justice.

Fiction.  Mystery/Crime.  2011.   320 pages.

It feels good to get these out of the way.  Combined and shorter reviews will help me catch up.


  1. The Final Reckoning sounds fantastic. I also have to pick up a few books about the Nokmim.

  2. Man of La Book - The other name of the group is taken from its motto, "Dam Israel Nokeam" (the blood of Israel will take vengeance) and abbreviated as DIN. Forged in Fury by BBC correspondent , Michael Elkins was published while many of DIN were still alive. There are also memoirs of the groups activities in From the Wings by Joseph Harmatz and The Avengers by Rich Cohen. I'm interested in these nonfiction accounts.