FICTION

The Ventriloquists

Park Row: Harlequin. Aug. 2019. 544p. ISBN 9780778308157. $27.99; pap. ISBN 9780778309253. $18.99; ebk. ISBN 9781488035142. F;.
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It’s the dark days of World War II, and Belgium is under German occupation. Despite the risks of opposing the Nazi regime, several stalwart citizens decide to fight back as best they can by pretending to collaborate but instead publishing a fake edition of the Belgian newspaper Le Soir, which they call Faux [False] Soir. First novelist Ramzipoor bases this engrossing novel on real-life events and extensive research. In fact, some 60,000 copies of Faux Soir were sold, all produced and distributed in just 18 days. The author enlists a colorful crew of characters, each with an original “name,” to accomplish this highly dangerous feat, some of them based on actual personalities. These include the orchestrator Aubrion (Jester); street orphan Gamin, a girl passing for a boy (Pyromaniac); Tarcovich, a lesbian prostitute (Smuggler); and Spiegelman, a gay Jewish man (Gastromancer).
VERDICT The narrative is periodically interspersed with an interview in the present between Eliza (Scrivener) and Helene, who was Gamin. Athough readers may occasionally find this complex tale tricky to follow because the development is presented from different perspectives of the principal characters, their persistence will be rewarded. Highly recommended for readers who appreciate fine fiction grounded in history. [See Prepub Alert, 2/4/19.]

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