Thursday, March 8, 2018

Friday Focus: The Friday 56 & Book Beginnings

It's Friday . . . time to share book excerpts with:
  • Book Beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, where bloggers share the first sentence or more of a current read, as well as initial thoughts about the sentence(s), impressions of the book, or anything else that the opening inspires.  
  • The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice, where you grab a book and turn to page 56 (or 56% of an ebook), find one or more interesting sentences (no spoilers), and post them.
Today I'm featuring my current read, The Bookworm by Mitch Silver.  The excerpts shared are from a hardcover edition I borrowed from the library.

 The Bookworm 

Villers-devant-Orval, Occupied Belgium
August 1940

The monk walked out of the cool woods from the French side of the road.  On the tall man's back, weighing him down, was the sort of rucksack the Dominicans use, fraying almost to the point of tearing where the canvas straps crossed his shoulders.  He walked with a slight limp and carried a poplar walking stick that had seen years of hard use.


Chapter 1
Moscow, Russia

In a vast Stalin-era granite box several kilometers north of the capital's outer ring road, Larissa Mendelova Klimt checked her cell phone one last timenothingbefore packing up the box for the return leg of her "daily commute."  Her routine never varied: pick up the yashchik in the morning, walk it along two rows of the Osobyi Arkhiv and three rows over.  Unlock the door to her carrel and set the box of old papers down on the desk.  Turn on the light.  Be seated.  At night, pick up the box, lock up, and walk her burden back to its parking place with the other wartime files on the archive's shelf. 

Page 56: "Lara lifted the lever that was playing the cylinder.  This couldn't be right, could it?  Dietrich?  Maugham?  The Kennedys?  What did any of it have to do with a long-lost book?"
My thoughts:  This novel has two story linesone set in present-day Russia, London, and Alaskaand the other set in World War II-era Europe.  Many historical figures make appearances, including Jack Kennedy, Marlene Dietrich, and Noel Coward.  Espionage and intrigue abound, along with a mysterious book.  Figuring out how the two stories are connected keep the reader engaged.

From Goodreads:  Why did Hitler chose not to invade England when he had the chance?

Europe, 1940: It’s late summer and Belgium has been overrun by the German army. Posing as a friar, a British operative talks his way into the monastery at Villers-devant-Orval just before Nazi art thieves plan to sweep through the area and whisk everything of value back to Berlin. But the ersatz man of the cloth is no thief. Instead, that night he adds an old leather Bible to the monastery’s library and then escapes.

London, 2017: A construction worker operating a backhoe makes a grisly discovery—a skeletal arm-bone with a rusty handcuff attached to the wrist. Was this the site, as a BBC newsreader speculates, of “a long-forgotten prison, uncharted on any map?” One viewer knows better: it’s all that remains of a courier who died in a V-2 rocket attack. The woman who will put these two disparate events together—and understand the looming tragedy she must hurry to prevent—is Russian historian and former Soviet chess champion Larissa Mendelovg Klimt, “Lara the Bookworm,” to her friends. She’s also experiencing some woeful marital troubles.

In the course of this riveting thriller, Lara will learn the significance of six musty Dictaphone cylinders recorded after D-Day by Noel Coward—actor, playwright and, secretly, a British agent reporting directly to Winston Churchill. She will understand precisely why that leather Bible, scooped up by the Nazis and deposited on the desk of Adolf Hitler days before he planned to attack Britain, played such a pivotal role in turning his guns to the East. And she will discover the new secret pact negotiated by the nefarious Russian president and his newly elected American counterpart—maverick and dealmaker—and the evil it portends.

Oh, and she’ll reconcile with her husband.


This Friday Focus post was originally written and published by Catherine for  It cannot be republished without attribution.  Retweeting and sharing on Google+ are appreciated. 


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