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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Rumor Game

Narrator: Megan Tusing

Macmillan Audio

ISBN: 9781250842770

Publisher: St. Martin's Press, Minotaur Books

Publication Date: 02/27/2024

Format: Other

My Rating: 5 Stars (ARC)

A determined reporter and a reluctant FBI agent face off against fascist elements in this gripping historical thriller set in World War II-era Boston.

Reporter Anne Lemire writes the Rumor Clinic, a newspaper column that disproves the many harmful rumors floating around town, some of them spread by Axis spies and others just gossip mixed with fear and ignorance. Tired of chasing silly rumors about Rosie Riveters' safety on the job, she wants to write about something bigger.

Special Agent Devon Mulvey, one of the few Catholics at the FBI, spends his weekdays preventing industrial sabotage and his Sundays spying on clerics with suspect loyalties―and he spends his evenings wooing the many lonely women whose husbands are off at war.

When Anne’s story about Nazi propaganda intersects with Devon’s investigation into the death of a factory worker, the two are led down a dangerous trail of espionage, organized crime, and domestic fascism―one that implicates their own tangled pasts and threatens to engulf the city in violence.

With vibrant historical atmosphere and a riveting mystery that illuminates still-timely issues about disinformation and power, Thomas Mullen delivers another powerful thriller.

My Review

Master storyteller Thomas Mullen returns following Blind Spots and his Darktown trilogy (loved)— Darktown, Lightning Men, and Midnight Atlanta with his latest, THE RUMOR GAME. A riveting crime novel set in Boston during WWII. A perfect blending of crime, mystery, and American History.

Some of Mullen's previous books are set in Atlanta, where he currently resides, tackling racial injustices. THE RUMOR GAME is set in Boston, where he has family roots, with another riveting novel based on several pro-Nazi, anti-Semitic organizations that existed in the US after the country entered WWII.

Many members were arrested in 1940 by the FBI for hoarding weapons (some stolen from the National Guard Armory) and plotting to assassinate Jewish politicians. (Facist and Communist groups). Also, the distribution of anti-Semitic hate sheets contributes to hostile and violent environments.

The novel features and alternates between two main characters: Anne and Devon.

Anne Lemire, Jewish and raised Catholic, is an anti-fascist activist and reporter who writes for the Rumor Clinic but is tired of writing unimportant stories and wants to dig deeper into more in-depth topics. Her job currently is chasing down harmful war rumors.

She learned over the years through her reporting that there were different kinds of mistruths. Some are born of ignorance and lack of understanding of the world. Some were harmless, more mistakes than lies, until they were repeated often enough to convince a critical mass of people, in which case they became dangerous. Some lies were well-camouflaged, and some were obvious. The good news for her was that with each falsehood, there was the reward of chasing down and disproving. She loved her job.

Agent Devon Mulvey,< Catholic, a handsome, philandering FBI agent who is quite the charmer and sleeps with married women whose husbands are at war. (he thinks confessing will make it ok). He is a bit of an outcast. He is to prevent industrial sabotage and spy on clerics with suspect loyalties. He is investigating a case of stolen munitions that ended in murder.

Anne's teenage brother, Sammy, is beaten up by an Irish gang targeting the city's Jews, and the national security concerns surrounding the fatal stabbing of Abraham Wolff, an employee of Northeast Munitions, bring Devon onto the case along with the Boston Police Department.

Devon finds himself at odds with the whole BPD, including his cousin, another officer.

The two intersect with the joint cases. They know one another from childhood and are not sure they can trust one another, but nonetheless, wind up in a romance complicated by their family involvements.

From Nazi flyers to counterfeit rations stamps, hoarding/stealing weapons, and corruption.

THE RUMOR GAME is meticulously researched, and the novel gives off a noir vibe with the time era and the smashing front cover, which draws you in. I loved Anne's character - tenacious and resourceful.

Masterfully written, the novel covers highly charged topics of prejudice, hatred, violence, and murder. The author has done his homework as usual with an extensive Author's Note, the inspiration behind the novel, and essential resources for further reading—an ideal book club pick.

This is the 6th book I have read by the author, and I thoroughly enjoy his writing and tackling important controversial topics of our history and how they collide with our present day. I highly recommend the author and all his books!

Mullen's inspiration (for Harold & Anne's project) ignited from a story from Arnold Beichman, 1943 "Christian Front Hoodlums Terrorize Boston Jews" in NY's PM Magazine.

He mentions some aspects of Anne's character were inspired by the Journalist Frances Sweeney, an Irish American writer who dedicated her life to exposing Fascists both before and during the war and who wrote a short-lived column debunking war rumors for the Boston Herald —until it was shut down via pressure from the Office of War Information which claimed the column did more harm than good. These stories and more will have you going down a rabbit hole to learn more!

AUDIOBOOK: I was fortunate to read the e-book and listen to the audiobook narrated by the talented and favorite Megan Tusing for an outstanding performance and listening experience. She made the characters come alive with emotion and suspense.

Thank you, St. Martins's Press, Minotaur Books, Macmillan Audio, and NetGalley, for a gifted ARC and ALC for an honest opinion. #SMPInfluencers #CoverCrush

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: Feb 27, 2024

My Rating: 5 Stars

Praise for the Works of Thomas Mullen

“Time and again, Mullen’s suspenseful storytelling pulls us forward.”

―The New York Times Book Review

“Mullen unfolds his multifaceted plot with a sure hand and lively characterizations.”

―The Wall Street Journal

“A brilliant blend of crime, mystery, and American history . . . Terrific entertainment.”

―Stephen King

“Mullen is a wonderful architect of intersecting plotlines and unexpected answers.”

―The Washington Post

“A novel that will stay with you for a very long time.”

―Booklist (starred review)

“It’s rare to find a thriller with such a fantastic and original concept. I was gripped.”

―Anthony Horowitz

“An exciting page-turner that’s also full of sharp writing and thought-provoking ideas.”

―Charles Yu

“Terrific . . . brimming with imagination.”

―Jason Rekulak

About the Author

Thomas Mullen lives a deceptively quiet life not far from downtown Atlanta. While S.U.V.s drive by and dogs bark and the locals suspect not a thing, he commits murders, spins wildly convoluted conspiracy theories, travels through time, reinvents the past, resurrects the dead, falls in love with women of his own invention, imperils young children, unleashes plagues, wages war, saves lives, dangles participles, and invents new metaphors. Most of his sentences contain verbs.

Or, if you're looking for a more official-sounding bio:

Thomas Mullen is the author of seven novels, including his internationally acclaimed series set in midcentury Atlanta: Darktown, an NPR Best Book of the Year, which was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Southern Book Prize, the Indies Choice Book Award, and was nominated for two CWA Dagger Awards; Lightning Men, which was named one of the Top 10 Crime Novels of the Year by the New York Times Book Review and was shortlisted for a CWA Dagger; and Midnight Atlanta, which was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger. His first novel, The Last Town on Earth, was named Best Debut Novel of 2006 by USA Today and was awarded the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for excellence in historical fiction.

His works have also been named to Year’s Best lists by The Chicago Tribune, USA Today, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Irish Times, Kirkus Reviews, The Onion’s A/V Club, The San Diego Union-Times, Paste Magazine, and The Cleveland Plain-Dealer, and have been nominated for or won awards in France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. His stories and essays have been published in Grantland, Paste, The Huffington Post, Atlanta Magazine, Crime Reads, LitHub, and The Bitter Southerner. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and sons. WEBSITE







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