We begin in the Nixon era, with CIA agent Louis Morgon suddenly being axed from his job. Knocked for a loop, he leaves his life behind and moves to a small village, Saint-Léon-sur-Dême, in France. While fixing up the decrepit cottage he's purchased, he finds a cache of weapons and French Resistance pamphlets. He takes them to Saint-Léon's lone gendarme, young Jean Renard. Renard has lived in Saint-Léon all his life, and his father, Yves, was the village's gendarme during World War II.
Yves Renard, like many other villagers, won't talk about the war. Jean Renard has heard rumors that Yves was a collaborator; that, as a gendarme, he did the bidding of the occupiers. Helping Louis investigate the cache provides Jean with an opportunity to delve into the history of Saint-Léon in wartime, and a present-day murder breaches the villagers' wall of silence about the war.
The Resistance's subtitle, "A Thriller," is a little misleading and may do this book a disservice. Although there is plenty of intrigue and tension in the plot, it's no bang-bang, action-driven story. The focus is on the secrets and lies forced upon the villagers by the occupation, the moral compromises they must make, and the effect these have on their relationships with their neighbors and loved ones. The pace is measured and deliberate. We have time to watch the seasons pass; to see birth, death and rebirth.
The Resistance was published in 2012 by Minotaur Books. I recommend it for readers who enjoyed Martin Walker's Bruno, Chief of Police and Sebastian Faulks's Charlotte Gray.
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Stacey Dutton, a young go-getter at a New York ad agency, spots an old, high-end leather suitcase among the discarded storeroom belongings from a grand Manhattan apartment building being converted to condos. Her agency represents Steinbach & Co., the maker of the suitcase, and Stacey is inspired to grab the suitcase for use in an ad campaign. When it's found that the suitcase belongs to a prominent doctor and pillar of New York philanthropy, who is also a Holocaust survivor, the suitcase becomes much more than a prop in an ad campaign. But when Stacey's boyfriend, a New York Times reporter, finds discrepancies between the doctor's story and the artifacts found in the suitcase, a mystery tale begins.
For Germany during World War II, Nazism and the cult of Hitler supplanted all other loyalties and beliefs. Soldiers swore fealty not to the Fatherland, but to Adolf Hitler personally. Formerly devout Catholics and Protestants converted to a faith in Nazism's confused melding of Nordic mythology and racial destiny. Even scientific truths were corrupted by Germany's new dogma of racialism, with its virulent anti-Semitism and belief in the superiority of Aryans. At Dachau, Max finds himself in an environment where he is expected to pervert his Hippocratic oath in the service of these twisted beliefs and aims. His family and his own destiny are held hostage to his choices.
Greg Dinallo is a former filmmaker and television and movie writer. He turned to novel writing 20 years ago and, before The German Suitcase, published five thrillers, including Red Ink, which was named a New York Times Notable Book. The German Suitcase is Dinallo's first digital-only title, published in 2012 by Premier Digital Publishing.
Disclosure: I received a free publisher's review copy of The German Suitcase.
Note: Versions of these reviews may appear on Amazon and other reviewing sites under my user names there.
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