The Rumor Game

Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Feb. 2024. 368p. ISBN 9781250842770. $28. THRILLER
In his acclaimed “Darktown” trilogy, Mullen mixed history and fiction to depict a racially divided Atlanta in 1948, where Black cops weren’t permitted to carry guns or arrest white people. In his new book, it’s Boston, 1943, another city riven with racial tension. Jewish people are being attacked in the streets as propaganda floods the city, blaming Jews for causing World War II. Members of the antisemitic New Patriots League print counterfeit ration stamps, dump them on Jewish store owners, then have police stooges raid the businesses and arrest the owners as profiteers. Then a dead man is found in an alley, a crumpled cocktail napkin with a swastika drawn on it pressed into his palm. A half-Jewish reporter for a Boston newspaper becomes the uneasy ally and even more uneasy lover of an Irish Catholic FBI agent as they work together to sort out who’s behind the crimes and—just as difficult—try to convince authorities that something needs to be done about them.
VERDICT Attractive characters, plenty of action, and a solid grasp of history make this a superior thriller and also a snapshot of a particularly shameful moment in the history of the United States.
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