Sunday, July 26, 2020

Kristin Harmel's latest, The Book of Lost Names, Does NOT Disappoint

It is no secret that I'm a huge fan of Kristin Harmel's books.  I have as many high ratings for her books than just about any other author I've read.  So, does her latest, The Book of Lost Names, measure up to the high bar she has set?  Well, if you read the title of this post, you will know that the answer is a resounding "YES!"  I love historical fiction as a genre.  Since I was a history major in college (a long, long time ago!), I have always had a deep appreciation for events from the past.  Kristin's latest told me a story that I had definitely never heard before, but loved reading about.  Here is the book jacket storyline:

   Eva Traube Abrams, a Florida librarian, is at the returns desk one morning when her eyes lock onto a photograph in a newspaper nearby. She freezes; it's an image of a book she hasn't seen in sixty-five years - one she recognizes as the Book of Lost Names.  The religious tome in the photograph, a French text thought to have been stolen by the Nazis, contains a mysterious code that researchers can't decipher.  Only Eva holds the key - but does she have the strength to revisit old memories and help reunite those parted in wartime?
   In 1942, Eva escapes Paris after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew. Finding refuge in a mountain village in the Free Zone, she learns to create false identity documents for Jewish children fleeing to neutral Switzerland.  But erasing people comes with a price, and with the help of a Resistance forger named Remy, Eva finds a way to preserve the real names of the children too young to remember their true identities.  The record she keeps - encoded in the Book of Lost Names - becomes even more vital when her Resistance cell is betrayed and Remy disappears.
   As the Germans overrun the library where Eva and her allies have been working, she must run for her life, not knowing if she'll ever see the book again.  But she has encoded in its pages one last, vital message - and she will never stop hoping for its answer.

Here is what I liked about this book:
1.  Kristin creates so much tension in this book that I simply couldn't put it down.  And when I did, I couldn't wait to pick it back up!
2.  She intersperses a few segments in the present day (2005), which feels like a breath of fresh air.  It reminds me of Jodi Picoult's The Storyteller.
3.  I had my share of chills, tears, a few disappointments ("unnhh), and a whole bunch of excitement.
4.  And, of course, learning about an entirely new piece of WWII was fascinating as well as enlightening.

People, I don't know how many times I have to tell you to read Kristin Harmel's books.  Will you please listen to me now?  You will NOT be sorry.