September’s Books

September was a good month for reading. In total I read 10 books:

I read 4 crime fiction, 4 non fiction, 1 ghost story and 1 science fiction. Two of the books were library books, 3 borrowed from a friend and 4 books were from my to-be-read books (books I’ve owned before January 2012).

It’s not been such a productive month for writing about the books I’ve read – more reading means less writing. So I’ve not previously written about the book I’ve chosen as my Pick of the Month. For more ‘Picks of the Month’ see Kerrie’s blog Mysteries in Paradise.

It is, by a short margin, The Sixth Lamentation by William Brodrick, the first Father Anselm novel.

Synopsis from Fantastic Fiction:

What should you do if the world has turned against you? When Father Anselm is asked this question by an old man at Larkwood Priory, his response, to claim sanctuary, is to have greater resonance than he could ever have imagined. For that evening the old man returns, demanding the protection of the church. His name is Eduard Schwermann and he is wanted by the police as a suspected war criminal.

With her life running out, Agnes Aubret feels it is time to unburden to her granddaughter Lucy the secrets she has been carrying for so long. Fifty years earlier, Agnes had been living in Occupied Paris, a member of a small group risking their lives to smuggle Jewish children to safety – until they were exposed by a young SS Officer: Eduard Schwermann.

As Anselm attempts to uncover Schwermann’s past, and as Lucy’s search into her grandmother’s history continues, their investigations dovetail to reveal a remarkable story.

It’s my Pick of the Month because it is historical fiction and it’s also a mystery. It looks back  to the Second World War in occupied France, telling a dramatic tale of love and betrayal, full of suspense, and interwoven stories.William Brodrick explains in his Author’s Note that the novel weaves fact and fiction, with accurate details of life in Paris during the Occupation and the subsequent war trials. He gathered facts for his novel from a variety of sources, although he has taken ‘small liberties’ with some of them.

William Brodrick has also drawn on his own personal experience. He was formerly in religious life but left before his final vows. He has degrees in philosophy and theology and after studying law he became a barrister, specialising in personal injury. The idea of smuggling Jewish children out of the Nazis’ hands was prompted by the war time experience of his own mother, Margaretha Duyker. She was part of a smuggling ring and took a child out of Amsterdam by train to Arnhem. She was caught by the Gestapo and imprisoned and eventually released. She died of motor neurone disease (the disease that Agnes is suffering from) in 1989.

I’ve read one other book by William Brodrick – The Gardens of the Dead, also a Father Anselm book. There are two more:

The Sixth Lamentation also fits into the R.I.P.VII Challenge.