The Whiskey Sea by Ann Howard Creel
20th Century / January 21, 2018

Title: The Whiskey Sea Author: Ann Howard Creel Publisher: Lake Union Publishing Release Date: August 23, 2016 Pages: 287 Motherless and destitute, Frieda Hope grows up during Prohibition determined to make a better life for herself and her sister, Bea. The girls are taken in by a kindly fisherman named Silver, and Frieda begins to feel at home whenever she is on the water. When Silver sells his fishing boat to WWI veteran Sam Hicks, thinking Sam would be a fine husband for Frieda, she’s outraged. But Frieda manages to talk Sam into teaching her to repair boat engines instead, so she has a trade of her own and won’t have to marry. Frieda quickly discovers that a mechanic’s wages won’t support Bea and Silver, so she joins a team of rumrunners, speeding into dangerous waters to transport illegal liquor. Frieda becomes swept up in the lucrative, risky work–and swept off her feet by a handsome Ivy Leaguer who’s in it just for fun. As danger mounts and her own feelings threaten to drown her, can Frieda find her way back to solid ground–and to a love that will sustain her?

Issac Bell detects in 1906 New York
20th Century / April 19, 2016

Clive Cussler needs no introduction, but the extensive list of characters in The Gangster does. The first pages are taken up with a “Cast of Characters” comprised of immigrants and plutocrats, creating a snapshot of America circa 1906. The story itself begins in 1895 when a handful of college boys from Yale “borrow” a steam locomotive to visit the girls at Miss Porter’s Finishing School in Farmington, Conn. The ringleader of the vandals is Issac Bell, who a few years later will be one of the top detectives in New York City. At the time, the city is under threat from various criminal gangs, including the ruthless Black Hand. How far will be Black Hand go? All the way to the White House, unless Detective Bell can stop them. Something that is always intriguing about detective novels set at this time (The Alienist, we’re looking at you) is how advanced communication was more than a century ago. In our era of emails and cell phones, we tend to overlook the fact that the telegraph was the 19th century internet. Postal notes were delivered faster than they were today. Newspapers were updated hourly in some big cities. And the gulf between…

Best Irish thrillers: Books and films for the green at heart
20th Century / March 7, 2016

It’s not easy being Irish. As G.K. Chesterton once said, “The great Gaels of Ireland are the men that God made mad, For all their wars are merry, and all their songs are sad.” That sentiment is reflected in many of the books and movies about Ireland and Irish Americans. These are books are movies that chronicle this Irish heritage. The Irish never have had it easy. Invaded first by Vikings and then conquered by the English hundreds of years ago, the Irish people always have been underdogs. Being Irish-American in the 1800s and early 1900s often meant being poor and living on the margins of society and being greeted by signs that stated, “No Irish Need Apply.” It meant suffering the small indignities of poverty, such as walking to save the bus fare or a family living on top of one another in a cramped tenement or never having quite enough to eat. That hard life has fallen to a new wave of immigrants. Even so, the Irish and Irish-Americans are only now getting over their impoverished past.   As the late Irish novelist Maeve Binchy said, “We don’t have to write about deprivation and loss anymore. Ireland is a…

Foxes in the Vineyard review
20th Century / February 18, 2016

Set in 1948, Foxes in the Vineyard by Michael J. Cooper mixes fact and fiction for this intriguing thriller about Israel. This novel features real people from the pages of history as well as more fictional characters. The author has first-hand knowledge of the topic, having lived in Israel and traveled in the region for 11 years, eventually completing medical school there. Title: Foxes in the Vineyard Author: Michael J. Cooper Genre: Fiction Release Date: December 1, 2011 Pages: 296 In April of 1948, Boston University history professor Evan Sinclair receives a telegram notifying him that his father, Professor Clive Robert Sinclair, has been reported missing from his post at the Palestine Archaeological Museum. Fearing for his father’s well-being, Evan and Clive’s longtime friend, Mervin Smythe, travel to Palestine on the eve of the first Arab-Israeli War. Evan finds his father and far more-a lost love, a son he never knew he had, and covert elements of the Third Reich positioned in Palestine before the end of World War II. Having infiltrated both Arab and Jewish populations, the Nazis seek to use counter-intelligence and terror to stoke the fires of hatred and fear between Arabs and Jews. The goal is…