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by Kate Quinn
William Morrow, February 2019
560 pages
ISBN: 0062884344

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Kate Quinn's historical thriller THE HUNTRESS takes place in various time periods and places, ranging back and forth between events in Soviet Russia during WWII, Nazi hunters in post war Germany, individuals struggling to survive during the war, and a family with a new stepmother living in post-war Boston. The characters in each place and time have complicated backstories that eventually intersect.

Ian Graham, an ex-war correspondent and a young soldier he hires named Tony Rodomovsky, are trying to track down the Nazis that the Nuremberg trials missed. Ian is obsessed with finding one particular Nazi murderer, an enigmatic woman known as "The Huntress." We soon learn that he has a personal reason for wishing to bring her to justice. Meanwhile, we read about Nina, who has grown up in a remote, poverty-stricken area of Russia with no chance of a better life. She runs away from home to become a pilot in the Russian army. We meet her after the war, when she is helping Ian to find the Huntress because of Nina's own history with this murderer. Little by little her romantic and combat adventures come to light.

In other chapters, we follow the life story of Jordan, a young woman living in Boston who wants to be a photographer. Her widowed father owns an antique store and does not want her to go to college and pursue a career apart from running his store. Jordan finds an ally in her father's new love interest, a refugee woman named Annaliese who, with her young daughter, soon becomes part of Jordan's family. Although Annaliese is very supportive of Jordan's life ambitions, Jordan is wary of her. Slowly, suspicion grows for Jordan that perhaps her beautiful new stepmother is hiding some secret from her past, especially when she discovers a terrifying object stuck into her new mother's wedding bouquet. Annaliese shies away from being photographed, but Jordan catches her in one moment with an expression that seems to belie her sweetness. Jordan wonders, also, if her daughter is really her daughter. Then her beloved father dies in a suspicious hunting accident.

As the novel goes back and forth in time, we learn what exactly happened to Nina to bring her together with The Huntress and how this connected her to Ian. And eventually everyone ends up in Boston. Tony gets a job in the antiques store, not because he suspects Annaliese but because of other information they have gotten. There are some terrifying moments when it seems that Jordan's life may be in danger. And even if Annaliese is found to be The Huntress, Ian and Nat have no way of extraditing her back to Germany to face charges.

Nina's experiences as one of the first woman pilots in the Soviet Union are based on historical fact, providing insights into a program with which most readers would be unfamiliar. If you enjoy historical novels with characters whose life experiences mirror the times in which they live, then this is a book for you. The author allows us to spend time in a post-war world where the past is still very much a shadow on the present-day lives of the characters and the ending of this novel is satisfying in many ways.

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

Reviewed by Anne Corey, February 2019

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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