Congress of Secrets.
By Stephanie Burgis.
Nov. 2016. 340p. Pyr, paper, $17 (9781633881990);
e-book, $9.99 (9781633882003).
Set during the historical backdrop of the
Congress of Vienna, which occurred after
the defeat and exile of Napoléon Bonaparte,
this novel is not only about the lengths political leaders will go to gain power but the
lengths a daughter will go to save her father.
It would appear that Lady Caroline Wynd-ham, a wealthy English widow, is in Vienna
to celebrate with other European aristocrats
and diplomats in the downfall of Napoléon.
In reality, Lady Caroline is actually Karolina
Vogl, daughter of a radical printer who was
arrested and imprisoned by the Viennese Secret Police when she was just a child. With
a childhood stolen by the secret police and
dark alchemy, Karolina has returned to Vienna to save her father from imprisonment
and from the dark powers that still lurk in
Vienna. Though not as engaging as Burgis’
previous novel, Masks and Shadows (2016),
this will still delight her fans and fans of
historical fiction in general with its spin on
political intrigue, historical romance, dark
alchemy, and romance. —LynnDee Wathen
Exile on Bridge Street.
By Eamon Loingsigh.
Oct. 2016. 350p. Three Rooms, paper, $15.95
Loingsigh’s (Light of the Diddicoy, 2014)
coming-of-age novel takes place in the
dockyards of Brooklyn in 1916. The Red
Hook waterfront is filled with the sounds of
seagoing commerce and Irish and Italian immigrant workers willing to do anything to
feed their families. Loingsigh has William
“Poe” Garrity, an old man, tell the story
of his turbulent first years in America. Just
16 when he arrives and missing his family
in Ireland, he joins the inner circle of the
kingpin, Dinny Meeham, the most powerful and feared man in Brooklyn, whose office
sits atop the Dock Loaders’ Club, under the
shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge. Meeham’s
promise to bring William’s family to New
York motivates him, but it comes with a
price: loyalty to a ruthless man. Loingsigh
brings the time and place to life with rough
action and dialogue in Irish brogue, but he
doesn’t just glorify the violence of the gang
rivalries. Instead, he portrays the families
that struggle with the cold realities of a city
more interested in money than the value of
human lives. —Dan Kaplan
By Amos Oz. Tr. by Nicholas de
Nov. 2016. 320p. HMH, $25 (9780544464049).
The latest novel by prominent Israeli writer
Oz (Scenes from Village Life, 2011) folds a
meditation on loyalty and loss into a tender
coming-of-age story, and the result is touch-
ing and intellectually potent. It is 1959, and
Shmuel is an idealistic bundle of aspirations
and anxieties. When his university studies
stall, and his girlfriend dumps him, he ac-
cepts a job as a caretaker for Gershom Wald,
a mournful and argumentative old man, and
quickly falls in love with Atalia, the beauti-
ful older woman who shares Wald’s musty,
book-lined house on the outskirts of Jerusa-
lem. Atalia, the daughter of
a political figure branded a
traitor for advocating com-
promise with the Arabs,
is taciturn and aloof; her
husband, Wald’s son, per-
ished horribly in the 1948
war. Tormented by love for
Atalia and weighed upon
by the profound loss that permeates their
house, Shmuel finds solace in exegesis, de-
veloping a theory that Judas Iscariot, the
betrayer of Jesus, was actually his most en-
thusiastic apostle and, perhaps, the first true
Christian. In pivoting between biblical times
and the divided Jerusalem of 1959, Oz’s al-
legorical intentions become as unambiguous
as his political affinities, and the tentative ro-
mance between Shmuel and Atalia provides
light moments and the possibility of new be-
ginnings. Oz is as engaging and provocative
as ever. —Brendan Driscoll
The Orphan’s Tale.
By Pam Jenoff.
Feb. 2017. 368p. Harlequin/MIRA, paper, $15.99
When Dutch teen Noa is thrown out of her
house after her father discovers she is pregnant by a German soldier, she finds refuge in
a circus. She has an infant in tow—not her
own, which was taken by the Reich, but one
she has rescued from a boxcar full of Jewish babies. Also finding refuge in the circus is
celebrated aerialist Astrid, whose husband, a
German officer, has divorced her because she
is a Jew. Herr Neuhoff, the circus proprietor,
orders her to train Noa on the trapeze, and
despite Astrid’s misgivings, the two develop
a bond. As the circus leaves its winter quarters and travels into France, danger mounts.
There will be trouble if it becomes known
that Herr Neuhoff is harboring Jews, and
Astrid’s lover, Peter, a Russian clown, insists on ridiculing the Germans in his act.
Meanwhile, love blooms between Noa and
Luc, the son of a Nazi collaborator. The busy
plot with its combination of circus life and
wartime peril will keep Jenoff’s (The Last
Summer at Chelsea Beach, 2015) fans intrigued. —Mary Ellen Quinn
YA: Noa’s teenage perspective will draw
YAs into this mix of history, circus life,
and wartime romance. MEQ.
By Wilbur Smith.
Oct. 2016. 400p. Morrow, $28.99 (9780062276483);
Best-selling author Smith continues his
Ancient Egypt series (Desert God, 2014) and
the story of long-lived warlock, trusted phara-
onic adviser, and, now, military commander
Taita. Having defeated the terrible Hyksos,
both Taita and Egypt seem poised for bet-
ter times, until barking-mad Utteric ascends
to the throne and slates Taita for execution.
Narrowly escaping to refuge in Greece with
his old friends, King Hurotas and Queen Te-
huti, Taita is dragged into intrigue and war to
save the Egyptian Empire and those he holds
most dear. The amount of exposition and
backstory may frustrate Smith devotees, but
newcomers to the series will benefit, given the
novel’s mythological elements and complicat-
ed character histories. This is an old-fashioned
adventure, with a braggart narrator, villains
evincing all the subtlety of Snidely Whiplash,
beautiful kidnapped maidens, copious fight
scenes, and in-the-nick-of-time saves. It’s ru-
mored that Smith no longer writes his own
novels, but his legions of fans will demand
this latest in the series in order to follow the
next chapter in Taita’s very long, exciting life.
Say Goodbye for Now.
By Catherine Ryan Hyde.
Dec. 2016. 380p. Amazon/Lake Union, paper, $14.95
Pete Solomon finds a new best friend and
an injured mutt on the same day. The best
friend, Justin Bell, is sensitive and thoughtful, like he is, but he’s also African American,
while Pete is white, and in Texas in 1959,
this is not OK. The mutt is rejected by the
local vet because he’s actually part wolf, and
Pete’s only choice is to sneak out to the remote cabin where a lady doctor is rumored to
be more kind to animals than to people. Dr.
Lucy Armstrong spends her entire alimony
check fixing up strays, so she can’t afford to
take in one more that won’t be paying. But
something about Pete and the wolf-dog won’t
let her turn them away. Then Pete needs some
fixing up, and Justin pays a high physical price
for their friendship, which brings his father,
Calvin, to Dr. Lucy’s door. Pete, especially,
has a Scoutesque innocence that immediately
endears. A moving story about patience, trust,
the families we choose, and the love it takes to
let somebody go. And don’t worry—the wolf-dog lives. —Susan Maguire
Tom Dooley: American Tragedy.
By Bill Brooks.
Nov. 2016. 350p. Five Star, $25.95 (9781432832278).
Like many folk songs, “Tom Dooley,” a
huge hit for the Kingston Trio in 1958, was
based on a true incident.
Tom Dula, a Civil War vet-
eran, returned home after
the war and was subsequent-
ly convicted of murdering
his lover, Laura Foster, with
whom he planned to elope.
Though the principals were
all residents of a small North
Carolina burgh, the story generated massive
press coverage, including the New York Times.
Brooks, the deservedly acclaimed author who