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by Mitch Silver
Pegasus, February 2018
352 pages
ISBN: 1681776413

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

THE BOOKWORM, Mitch Silver’s latest thriller, takes the reader on a whirlwind journey from a Moscow researcher’s mysterious WWII recordings - which include a plot to influence Hitler’s strategy - to strange happenings at the Alaskan oil fields. Larissa Mendelova Klimt, a Russian historian, has been given a bag of old recordings on Dictaphone cylinders. As she listens, she discovers they were made by Noel Coward, the playwright, who was also a British undercover operative. Together with other famous and infamous individuals, including Ian Fleming and Anthony Blunt, he had worked on a way to influence Hitler. They devised a plan to insert a page into an old Bible. Techniques would be used to make the page seem as if it was even more ancient. It would contain a cryptic prophecy from Nostradamus, telling Hitler he could achieve victory on the Russian front. Now, unknown parties want the world to know that Britain and the Allies conspired to save themselves at the expense of Russia.

Klimt is caught in the middle of this secret. A recent excavation uncovered the recordings and a nefarious individual gave them to her. We do not know the identity of those who are striving to reveal this information. Klimt is pulled back and forth in her efforts to understand who is behind what is going on. As a former chess champion, she tries to use her knowledge of chess strategy to figure out the moves of the various players.

Meanwhile, her twin brother Lev, who works in the Alaskan oil fields, makes a discovery that puts his own life in jeopardy. His job is to test the oil, alongside an American counterpart. The American is killed and Lev suspects that the new oil discoveries are not what they seem. At the same time, the American president, who bears a striking resemblance in physique and affect to our current President, is visiting Moscow. Klimt is asked to be the person who interviews him on live television. She becomes involved with Gerasimov, the head of the broadcast network, and meets his son Nikki. Neither individual may be trustworthy, but she is unsure of their motives. A number of disparate story lines come together in the interview.

High-speed chases, explosions, gunfights, murders and questionable romantic encounters add to the book’s action. THE BOOKWORM has many unclear plot connections that might make the story tough to follow, but for an intriguing "what if" adventure about Hitler and WWII, the reader will not be disappointed.

§ Anne Corey is a writer, poet, teacher and botanical artist in New York's Hudson Valley.

Reviewed by Anne Corey, February 2018

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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