ONLINE BOOK CLUB—A COBBLER'S TALE
Full of action and definitely captivating, A Cobbler's Tale by Neil Perry Gordon chronicles the journey of one Jewish family fleeing from war in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire to settle in the US.
It is the early 1900s and the Jews in the village of Krzywcza know that things are about to get worse and many are leaving their homes to settle in the US where they can escape persecution and provide better lives for their families. Pincus Potasznik is one such man but he is unsure his wife Clara will agree to his departure. He convinces her and soon he is on a ship headed to America. He meets Jakob on the voyage and they forge a long lasting friendship. Unlike Pincus, Jakob is fleeing from his past deeds and intends to start a new life when they arrive. While having to work full time to establish his shoe-making business and Jakob getting involved with gangs, Pincus has his hands full. Worse still, World War I is about to begin and Pincus might not be able to go back for his family.
I loved that the plot does not run out of action scenes and many are emotionally gripping. The book is quite fascinating as every turn consists of a riveting scene. In the first part of the book, the unfair treatment that the Jews receive from the authorities is quite evident and even after the Potaszniks leave their homeland and start their life in America, challenges follow them there. Jakob's involvement with ruthless gangs makes the book even more fascinating as surprises occur.
The fact that it is loosely based on real events makes it feel more authentic. Neil Perry Gordon bases the story on his great-grandparents' immigration experiences. Even though the plot has been changed to create room for more action, it still reflects the challenges that many Jewish families faced even before the start of WWI in the Austro-Hungarian region.
The characters are not perfect and each of them does what is required for them to survive which makes them relatable and appear real. Clara is daring and she is willing to do whatever it takes to save her family. She takes on the responsibility of leading her family when her husband is away and she does so remarkably. Pincus is ambitious and wants to provide his family with the best life that he can offer. Despite his shy personality, he risks his life many times to protect those that he loves. Jakob, on the other hand, values friendship even if he is caught up in illegal activities.
The editing of the book is well done and the plot is fascinating. A Cobbler's Tale by Neil Perry Gordon would appeal to readers who appreciate action-packed stories that contain the themes of immigration, survival and war.
MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW—A COBBLER'S TALE
Synopsis: In 1910, Pincus Potasznik, a Jewish cobbler, left his pregnant wife and three small children to sail for America. His goal is to seek a new life for his family in the burgeoning Lower East Side of Manhattan.
On his traumatic voyage across the Atlantic on the SS Amerika steamship, Pincus meets Jakob Adler, a young man running from an accidental murder of a notorious crime boss in Warsaw. Opportunities await them in New York, but it's not an easy time for Jewish immigrants.
A few years later, while enjoying the spoils of his business and helped along with Jakob's unlawful contributions, Pincus realizes he made a terrible mistake. But the opportunity to return to his family has almost closed due to the outbreak of World War 1. Now he must face a decision, should he risk going back to Europe to rescue them from a war they could all die in, or is it better to wait in New York and build his fortune?
Born in a small shtetl in the province of Galicia, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Pincus has yearned all his life for wealth and the freedom it will bring, but what price will he have to pay for his dreams?
As the bloody battles of World War I explodes within miles of the family home, in a small village called Krzywcza, Moshe, the son of Pincus and Clara Potasznik, discovers a divine ability to foretell dire events, and to offer comfort to those in pain, taking us deep into the world of ancient Jewish mysticism, known as the Kabbalah.
Will Pincus do the right thing? And can Moshe foresee what's to come for his own family?
Critique: An inherently engaging and intrinsically interesting read from beginning to end, "A Cobbler's Tale" showcases author Neil Perry Gordon's genuine flair for narrative storytelling and his attention to historical detail. A deftly crafted and original novel that will linger in the mind and memory long after it is finished and set back upon the shelf, "A Cobbler's Tale" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Cobbler's Tale" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW—MOON FLOWER
Synopsis: It's the year 1675. Eighteen-year-old Lukas Pietersen is about to consume the ceremonial substance, known as Moon Flower.
The potent seeds from this nighttime blooming plant, as prepared and administered by a shaman, will cause Lukas to lose his memory and begin his quest to become a warrior of the Pequawket tribe.
"Moon Flower" by Neil Perry Gordon is an epic tale that follows Lukas, a young boy in the Dutch controlled territory of New Amsterdam, as he meets chiefs, shamans, warriors, and the English army on his quest to seek a connection with the Great Spirit.
From the New World to the city of Amsterdam, down to the slave coast of West Africa, and across the Atlantic Ocean to the slave mart of Charles Town, "Moon Flower" tells the story of Lukas Pietersen's adventures and his battles with a fearsome evil spirt known as the Wendigo.
Critique: A seventeenth century tale of a young man's search for the Great Spirit, "Moon Flower" is an impressively crafted and entertaining read that showcases author Neil Perry Gordon's genuine flair for originality and narrative driven storytelling. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Moon Flower" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
KIRKUS REVIEW—THE RIGHTEOUS ONE
This second installment of a religious thriller series stars a humble cobbler.
Gordon’s (The Cobbler’s Tale, 2018) novel continues the story of the legendary tzaddik, a group of 36 pious and supernaturally gifted Jews who always exist in the world in a kind of mystical balance with their evil counterparts, the rasha. Moshe the cobbler, a humorous and unassuming worker in New York, is a tzaddik, the son of a man named Pincus Potasznik, who founded a secret group called the Landsman Society of Krzywcza. For years, New York City Councilman Arnold Lieberman has been searching for the son of Pincus in order to recruit him in the age-old fight against the rasha, here in the form of a Bronx-based Jewish gangster named Solomon Blass and his ruthless son, Myron. Only a teenager in the first book, Moshe is now 60 years old and decidedly nonheroic in his daily routine. But Lieberman is persistent, and soon Moshe is embroiled in a battle that sprawls over the real world and the dream realm. Gordon writes all of this in a smoothly controlled narrative that’s equally adept at both the small, personal details—each main character is well shaped and the bad guys are every bit as three-dimensional as the good guys—and the larger philosophical tapestry inscribed with the minutiae of the cabala. “In order to connect with the Light, we must learn how to face the Opposition, the source of life’s challenges,” readers are told at one point. “The uninitiated at first cringe at this term. However in order to achieve authentic spiritual growth, the Opposition must not be feared, instead it must be accepted as a blessing from the Creator.” Throughout the enjoyable sequel, the author playfully overlays the quotidian New York reality onto a dramatic supernatural backdrop whose existence most ordinary people never suspect. This second volume can easily be read independent of the first.
An entertaining, thought-provoking fantasy in which a plainspoken protagonist is enlisted in a war.
THE PRAIRIES BOOK REVIEW—THE BOMB SQUAD
The handsomely-crafted plot and a swift pace makes this historical thriller an engrossing read...
A devastating explosion at Black Tom Island in New York City opens Gordon's richly detailed first installment in the Clash of the Patriots series set against the background of World War I. Dr. Harold Schwartz, the administrator of Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital, is a German spy in disguise, working under his father's command, a close friend of Kaiser Wilhelm and a dealer in lethal weapons, to keep Americans away from the war. The father-son duo are the masterminds behind German espionage activity wreaking havoc along the Eastern Seaboard and among steamships attempting to cross the Atlantic.
When the British Secret Intelligence Service collaborates with American police and recruits New York City police detective Max Rothman to assemble the Bomb Squad, a team of German-speaking specialists, to probe into the sudden surge of German espionage activity, Schwartz's mission falls in jeopardy. The stakes rise as the two patriots come face to face. But who will win the battle?
Gordon skillfully blends the two different story lines, the one about the two patriots caught up in a drama of passion and loyalty and the other about aristocrats maneuvering for power at the uppermost levels. He has a good feel for the period as he skillfully evokes the Germania society with its deeply ingrained political convictions and illuminates the events of both individual lives and the political forces that characterized the tumultuous World War I era. Despite a large cast of characters, Gordon keeps them all clearly distinguishable: Max with his intelligence, integrity, courage and sensitivity makes for a worthy hero for the series; Harold surprises the reader with his gentle side; the members of the Bomb Squad are a nice bunch, and the reader will wait eagerly for their upcoming adventures; other characters are constructed nicely, though women in the story are somewhat brittle and mostly stay unremarkable.
The pacing is fast with numerous plot twists and shocking revelations, and the action is plenty: conspiracy follows conspiracy, opportunistic aristocrats swipe loyalties, and dangerous secrets are unraveled. Espionage operations and political conspiracies add to the intrigue of the story whereas undercover spies, intimidating villains, and chivalrous heroes add further weight to the stellar cast. With its engrossing storyline and suspenseful plotting, the book will appeal equally to lovers of historical fiction and period action thrillers. Readers will wait eagerly for the next installment.
BOOK VIRAL—THE BOMB SQUAD
A conceptually impressive, tightly wound thriller, far too many war-based novels favour action and adventure at the expense of plot but Gordon finds a more equitable balance and in doing so The Bomb Squad: Clash of The Patriots proves an absorbing and intelligent read that engages from the start.
Revolving around historical events it certainly isn't an archetypal war novel as Gordon takes us beyond a predictable pseudo-historical slant to give his readers a more clandestine and thought-provoking perspective.
As a wartime adventure, it's an exciting one. Laden with double-crossing and unexpected adversities that take us from New York to Cologne with Gordon demonstrating a fine eye for detail when it comes to setting up plot and characters.
The plotting is tightly wound, but rather than get bogged down in painstakingly explicated motives we follow Max and Harold through a kinetic series of escalating events that immerse us in his narrative.
The test of a good thriller is when you stop thinking about the mechanics of the plot and start caring about the people and Max, in particular, has a certain offhand appeal which makes him highly endearing. More importantly, Gordon gives us characters that respect the intelligence of his readers.
Writing in an ever-popular genre is never easy and Gordon has delivered a genuine gem of a read with The Bomb Squad: Clash of The Patriots being highly recommended.
THE PRAIRIES BOOK REVIEW—HOPE CITY
A sweeping adventurous tale...
Set in 1898, Gordon’s briskly paced, highly entertaining tale focuses on a teenage Jewish boy who ventures into the wilderness of Alaskan goldfields to seek his fortune but finds himself in the middle of a war between the good and evil. When 17-year-old Samuel Rothman boarded a ship from San Francisco with his best friend Liam Kampen for Alaska to try his luck in gold mining, he had nothing else but a bit of adventure and some riches on his mind. But seeking a fortune in a small Alaskan town where the good and the righteous are relentlessly in a war with their ruthless opponents is not as easy as it seems on the surface: Samuel must tread his way carefully or risk losing himself to the wild, unforgiving Alaskan terrains.
An adventurous story at heart, the narrative goes far beyond the exploration of Samuel’s journey as a gold-digger in the small mining town: Gordon sweeps Samuel up in the turmoil of a town torn apart by a ruthless war between the good and the greedy, creating a remarkable coming-of-age story as the latter realizes his true aspirations. Gordon’s beautifully imagined prose has clarity and dimension, and he keeps the pacing relatively quick and does justice to the impressive array of characters. Samuel’s emergence from a typical teenage self-doubt is beautifully imagined. Ripe on unforeseen twists and shocking turns, this fast-paced adventure will delight action-adventure fans as well as lovers of nuanced coming-of-age tales.
This is a complete entertainment package.
THE NERDY GIRL EXPRESS—HOPE CITY
The hunt for gold was a time of discovery and excitement for many people. Neil Gordon Perry has crafted a story that takes this time period and allows readers to connect with two friends on their journey in Alaska. Hope City is the type of story that will remind people of the beloved stories like Call of the Wild that bring the adventures of the past to a present audience in an engaging way.
Samuel Rothman and his best friend Liam Kampen are two San Francisco teenagers who decide that they want to try their luck in the Alaskan wilderness. In the summer of 1898 they head out, but Samuel is told to hide his Jewish heritage in order to protect himself from ruffians. He takes on the new name of Percy Hope and this choice will lead to a curious time in an unnamed mining town. The good and righteous will find themselves facing off against greedy and ruthless adversaries. Hope City will become a beacon of virtue and hope, while Sunrise, a villainous saloon owner will tempt prospects with all the evils of liquor, gambling, and women.
For those who have not read Neil Perry Gordon’s works before, Hope City is a wonderful addition to his historical fiction works. He excels at creating such rich locations and his ability to weave in morality type stories within his larger narratives speaks to a deep desire for happy endings. Hope City shows a main character who must struggle his way out of toils and hardships in order to make his way back to a life of virtue in a place that is full of ambitious and sometimes immoral people.
BOOK VIRAL—HOPE CITY
Historical fiction often struggles to find an original perspective but sometimes a novel comes along that is markedly different and in this respect, Hope City takes some beating as Gordon returns us to the feverish days of 1898 and the lawless goldfields of the Alaskan wilderness.
Readers familiar with Gordon’s previous releases such as The Bomb Squad will know his novels are far more than plot and drama and in Hope City, we quickly come to appreciate the stark realities and wide-ranging possibilities gold prospectors of old faced. On this level, Hope City is parsimonious with its plot, which is revealed on a need-to-know basis and told from the alternating perspectives of Percy Hope and Magnus Vega whilst the historical figure of Simon Wible adds both intrigue and authenticity.
Yes, as befitting the genre you will find its time favored tropes, yet in Gordon’s capable hands they feel wrenchingly right. Evoking a sense of folly built by greed where common sense would have steered clear. But the real treasure in Hope City is to be found in its character development with Gordon once again demonstrating a gift for nuance that vividly brings his characters to life.
A rich and dramatic page-turner with a shocking twist, Hope City proves a must-read and is highly recommended.
MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW—THE BOMB SQUAD
The Bomb Squad: Clash of The Patriots
Neil Perry Gordon
9781732667778, $13.99, PB, 411pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: At the stroke of midnight, a devastating explosion at Black Tom Island, an armaments depot, rocks New York City awake; and so begins "The Bomb Squad: Clash of The Patriots", the story of two patriots in World War I, each willing to put his life on the line in order to achieve a glorious victory for his cause.
Serving the Fatherland is Dr. Harold Schwartz, administrator of the prestigious Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital and a German spy. Along with his father, a dealer in lethal weapons and a lifelong friend of Kaiser Wilhelm, Schwartz is hell-bent on distracting the Americans from entering the war.
Meanwhile, the British Secret Intelligence Service recruits highly regarded New York City police detective Max Rothman to assemble a team of German-speaking specialists, known as the Bomb Squad. Their mission is to investigate the sudden surge of German espionage activity wreaking havoc along the Eastern Seaboard and among steamships attempting to cross the Atlantic.
"The Bomb Squad" follows these men's exploits through an interconnecting tale of love, loss, friendship, and betrayal, stretching from American shores to the epicenter of German power during a time when the world is at war.
Critique: A deftly crafted historical novel of World War I, "The Bomb Squad: Clash of The Patriots", author and novelist Neil Perry Gordon has provided an extraordinary and memorable entertaining read of espionage and suspense that is laced throughout with unexpected twists and turns. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Historical Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Bomb Squad: Clash of The Patriots" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW—HOPE CITY
Hope City: The Alaskan Adventures of Percy Hope
Neil Perry Gordon
9781732667761, $16.99, PB, 389pp
Synopsis: Warned by his father to conceal his Jewish heritage from the ruffians he may encounter, Samuel Rothman changes his name to the less conspicuous Percy Hope. This fateful decision gives a yet-unnamed mining village a new identity and catapults Percy into a world where the good and the righteous must face greedy and ruthless adversaries.
Along a waterway known as Turnagain Arm, the newly named Hope City and the more established Sunrise are like opposite sisters. The good and virtuous Hope, with a Catholic church led by the influential Reverend O'Hara, admonishes residents against committing the seven deadly sins. In Sunrise, villainous saloon owner Magnus Vega tempts prospectors with whiskey, gambling, and women.
"Hope City: The Alaskan Adventures of Percy Hope" weaves the tale of a young man falling down a rabbit hole of unexpected hardships and struggling to find his way out, amid a wild and unforgiving environment where ambitious men and women seek their fortunes.
Critique: A deftly crafted turn-of-the-20th- century historical action/adventure novel "Hope City: The Alaskan Adventures of Percy Hope" showcases author Neil Perry Gordon's impressive narrative skills with an inherently absorbing and fully entertaining story replete with unforeseen plot twists turns eventually culminating in an unexpected and shocking conclusion. While especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community and college/university library Historical Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hope City: The Alaskan Adventures of Percy Hope" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
BOOK VIRAL - SADIE'S SIN
From Warsaw to Buenos Aires Gordon takes us on an exhilarating journey that reflects the best and worst in human nature. A high octane romantic thriller where love, honour and organized crime come crashing together to deliver an intelligent and instantly engaging read.
Masterfully maintaining an ever-present balance between tension and suspense Gordon shuns excessive detail in favour of crisp prose, authentic dialogue and powerful social commentary. Imbuing his characters with a real sense of presence as he confidently weaves multiple plot threads without the need to revert to genre tropes.
Gordon certainly has a knack for creating characters with real gravitas. He clearly demonstrates this in his previous novels The Bomb Squad and Hope City and once again in Sadie’s Sin. Alex and Sadie are highly memorable and well-conceived. But Gordon still allows them room for growth as events evolve and it makes for superb fictional dynamics.
Authentically capturing a bygone era in which women were viewed as the prizes in a male game Sadie’s Sin is a showdown between its style and story. Combining Gordon’s slick, high-tension writing with the values and sexual stereotyping of yesterday whilst reminding us of loves sometimes harrowing consequences in times past.
A compelling and persuasive read that explores the foundations of unconditional love, the dictates of faith and the ever resounding echo of hope, Gordon has delivered a gem of a page-turner that is recommended without reservation.
THE PRAIRIES BOOK REVIEW—SADIE'S SIN
A fast-paced, gripping historical drama…
Gordon delivers an engrossing tale of love, sacrifice, and betrayal, set in 1924 in Poland and Argentina. Sadie Wollman, a young Jewess, falls in love with the war hero and university professor, Alexander Kaminski, and falls prey to the Zwi Migdal, a Jewish organized-crime group trafficking young women into forced prostitution throughout brothels in Buenos Aires, after her parents arrange her brokered marriage to a wealthy Argentine Jewish business man and sends her away.
When Alex learns of the deception, he sets on a dangerous journey to save his lady love from a terrible fate. Gordon evokes the post-first-world-war era with fascinating detail and perception, skillfully recreating the period’s feel in the characters’ passionate pursuits. Sadie’s struggle with her Jewish identity is etched in reality, as her family challenges her loyalty to the religion.
Gordon skillfully explores the blurred lines between love and faith as the couple struggle with their own dilemma and the choices of those they love. Alex’s determination and sacrifice as a lover make for an affecting love story. The narrative is rife with tension and plenty of suspense in the background.
Gordon is expert at creating action scenes and makes the carrying out of the dangerous pursuit by Alex and Jan Mazur on the sailing ship both exciting and credible. The brutal reality of innocent women becoming victims of sex-trafficking rings in 1920s Argentina is on full view with shocking clarity. Lovers of historical thrillers are in for a treat.