Authors Showcase: Day of the Thrillers
May 17, 2012
The Book: A Bitter Veil
The Author: Libby Fischer Hellman
The Story: It all began with a line of Persian poetry . . . Anna and Nouri, both studying in Chicago, fall in love despite their very different backgrounds. Anna, who has never been close to her parents, is more than happy to return with Nouri to his native Iran, to be embraced by his wealthy family.
Beginning their married life together in 1978, their world is abruptly turned upside down by the overthrow of the Shah, and the rise of the Islamic Republic.
Under the Ayatollah Khomeini and the Republican Guard, life becomes increasingly restricted and Anna must learn to exist in a transformed world, where none of the familiar Western rules apply.
Random arrests and torture become the norm, women are required to wear hijab, and Anna discovers that she is no longer free to leave the country. As events reach a fevered pitch, Anna realizes that nothing is as she thought, and no one can be trusted … not even her husband.
Review: “Iran is in the news these days and the issues are important to us all, so it was with interest that I picked up Libby Fischer Hellman’s new novel, A Bitter Veil, set in the midst of the Iranian revolution that brought Khomeini to power. In a viscerally effective tale she brings that key moment to life, and we see it in a nuanced way that we would do well to carry into our understanding of the current crisis. I certainly remembered the overthrow of the Shah and the hostage crisis, but I can’t say I ever got inside that world until I read Hellman’s book.
“One of those themes Hellman succinctly identifies in her author notes: ‘I am drawn to stories about women whose choices have been taken away from them. How do they react? Do they simply surrender? Become victims? Or can some survive, even triumph over their travails?’
“The other theme that Hellman gradually unfolds is best summed up by Hannah Arendt’s famous phrase “the banality of evil.” As Anna says at one point when describing Iran during the revolution, “It’s as if an entire country–an entire culture–slipped off its axis. Black became white. White became black. Kind people were unkind. Good people were bad.”
“Arendt’s notion that an ordinary person can be led to evil actions arose from her study of the Nazis, and Hellman has Nazis in this book. I won’t tell you how–it will spoil some of the plot–but she creates a subtle and effective parallel between the Iranian extremism and Germany under the Nazis. She shows willingness of “good” people in Iran to perform orgies of killing through the process of identifying the “other” and then vowing to eradicate that other in order to purify society. Hellman includes amongst the “good” villains those allied with the Islamic revolution and those just trying to survive. Isn’t that precisely why such villainy works? No need to be a true believer to become tangled in the darkness.”
The Book: The Ninth District
The Author: Douglas Dorow
FBI Special Agent Jack Miller, pulled into a high-profile case to mentor a new agent, finds himself in a clash with the toughest opponent of his career.
The chase culminates in the bowels of the city, in the storm sewers and tunnels beneath The Ninth District Federal Reserve of Minneapolis
Review: “Author Doug Dorow presents a realistic action thriller story that makes one feel like you are hanging on for life as FBI Agent Jack Miller drives hell-bent in quest of the Governor, bank robber and killer. The detailed descriptions are smoothly written to allow a comfortable fast read. Does Agent Miller get his man? Does he get his woman? Read this great story for the answers.”
Review: “I heard about this book from a fellow Twin Cities resident who knows I love John Sanford’s writing, and I’m so glad I took a chance and tried it for myself. I was absolutely pulled in from the first page, and loved it right up to the last sentence. As a resident of Minneapolis I admit I got a big thrill from the many scenes, which took place at familiar landmarks and through some of the highlights of our city, but I think anyone, regardless of where they live, would find the book just as compelling.
I love crime thrillers and this one has all the key components that make a hit. The main character is seasoned and jaded and perfectly juxtaposed against his rookie partner. The author does a great job of weaving in just the right amount of the main character’s personal life as well. The villain is easy to hate and yet believable in the way he is written. I found myself so uneasy at some points, worrying about what would come next, that I would turn off my kindle only to turn it back on in the next moment, needing to know how things would be resolved.
“It is always exciting to find a new and promising author in this genre – I hope there is more coming soon! I highly recommend this book.”
Review: “When a series of bank robberies result in the murder of a pregnant woman, Jack Miller, a seasoned FBI agent and Ross Fruen, “Junior”, are assigned to the case. The robber has never killed before, so why did he start now? This is just one question they need to uncover in order to find their guy.
“The gunman wore a mask, and due to its appearance was quickly assigned the nickname of “the Governor”. As they follow the clues, and the case threatens the agents’ lives, they only become more determined to find their guy.
When it becomes clear the ultimate target is the Federal Reserve, “which has never been robbed before,” they believe they know what “the Governor’s” next step is.
“Dorow has written a well-paced thriller, which sweeps the reader along through the use of multiple points of view. His characters were well written and had me invested in the story until its exciting conclusion.”