Sunday, April 14, 2024

The Rumor Game by Thomas Mullen Book Review

About the Book:

A determined reporter and a reluctant FBI agent face off against fascist elements in this gripping historical thriller set in World War II-era Boston.

Reporter Anne Lemire writes the Rumor Clinic, a newspaper column that disproves the many harmful rumors floating around town, some of them spread by Axis spies and others just gossip mixed with fear and ignorance. Tired of chasing silly rumors about Rosie Riveters' safety on the job, she wants to write about something bigger.

Special Agent Devon Mulvey, one of the few Catholics at the FBI, spends his weekdays preventing industrial sabotage and his Sundays spying on clerics with suspect loyalties—and he spends his evenings wooing the many lonely women whose husbands are off at war.

When Anne’s story about Nazi propaganda intersects with Devon’s investigation into the death of a factory worker, the two are led down a dangerous trail of espionage, organized crime, and domestic fascism—one that implicates their own tangled pasts and threatens to engulf the city in violence.

My Review:

I had a hard time getting into this novel. It started off very slowly as the two characters are introduced in seemingly unrelated activities. I didn't like Devon from the beginning. He is not the kind of man I appreciate as a hero. Anne was more attractive to me, tracing rumors to their source and disproving them. Some were just rather silly but some had roots in anti-war feelings. That aspect of the novel is similar to the disinformation promoted today.

This is the first book I had read by Mullen. The atmosphere of the era was presented well, especially the prejudice towards Jews. I can tell a great deal of research went into the book and I appreciate the Author's Note and the end identifying aspects of the novel based on historical fact. I thought the novel rather uninspiring, however, and not compelling. The plot moved slowly and I found myself skimming after a while.

This novel would be of interest to readers who enjoy books centered on WW II.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

About the Author:

THOMAS MULLEN is the internationally bestselling author of eight novels, including Darktown, an NPR Best Book, which was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Southern Book Prize, the Indies Choice Book Award, and was nominated for or won prizes in France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The follow-up, Lightning Men, was named one of the Top Ten Crime Novels of 2017 by The New York Times and was shortlisted for a CWA Dagger AwardHis debut, The Last Town on Earth, was named Best Debut Novel of 2006 by USA Today and was awarded the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for excellence in historical fiction.

Macmillan, 368 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

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