The Day of the Jackal: A thriller plus history

Spring, 1963. The OAS, a secret organization of Algerian ex-military, wants Charles de Gaulle killed. Having failed spectacularly in one attempt to kill de Gaulle, OAS leaders decide to hire a professional assassin, a blond man from England who calls himself Chacal, which is French for jackal. Chacal wants to operate entirely on his own, […]

The Old Countess adds terror to impressionism

While painting the Dorgone River Valley landscape, Richard Graham encounters a witch-like old woman who looks like a portrait by Goya. He accepts the Comtesse de Lomoudrie’s invitation to come to tea and bring his wife. On the way, Richard and Jill visit a cemetery where one grave, that of Marthe Ludérac, stands isolated from […]

Dere Mable sees WWI recruit’s funny side

Dere Mable is what it’s fictional narrator would probably call an E. Pistol Larry novel. The American army is attempting to turn Bill Smith into a clog in its fighting machine in France. Bill had mastered the clog part before he reached training camp. Dere Mable: Letters of a Rookie by Edward Streeter G. William […]

In 1926 Beau Sabreur foresaw Islamic State

Some novels deserve to be read despite all the author’s efforts to render them unreadable.  Beau Sabreur falls into that category. Half of P. C. Wren’s Beau Sabreur is the fictional memoir of Major Henri de Beaujolais; the other half tells basically the same events from the perspective of two French Foreign Legion deserters. Beau […]

The Mandarins tread murk of post-war politics

The Mandarins is Simone de Beauvoir’s fictional account of the upper echelons of the political left in post-war Paris, a group that she knew personally. The book follows two middle-aged characters, writer Henri Perron and psychotherapist Anne Dubreuilh. The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir Leonard M. Friedman, trans. Regnery, Gateway, 1956. 610 pp. 1956 bestseller […]

In Secret: Ciphers, Espionage, Murder, and Mystery

In an American secret service office, Evelyn Erith opens a coded letter. It says the Germans believe Kay MacKay, an American concentration camp escapee, knows The Great Secret. MacKay must be eliminated. From that beginning, In Secret’s author, Robert W. Chambers,  sets up familiar scenarios which he promptly turns on their heads. The novel’s series […]

The Sky Pilot in No Man’s Land Honors WWI Noncombattants

The Sky Pilot in No Man’s Land begins like a romance for religious spinsters, but within 20 pages, the handsome missionary Barry Dunbar turns out to be asthmatic, pedantic, and tactless. When war breaks out, Barry, a Canadian, tries to enlist. He is rejected on medical grounds, but his father is accepted. Barry reluctantly accepts […]