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Review Detail

 
The Bone Church
Thrillers
August 20, 2014    
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Is the book engaging / enticing? 
 
5.0
Can you relate to the characters and/or subject matter? 
 
5.0
Can you easily follow the scenes/chapters? Are they descriptive enough? 
 
5.0
Would you recommend this book? 
 
5.0

Stylish and atmospheric cold war thriller

"The Bone Church” by Victoria Dougherty is a gripping and atmospheric historical thriller that intelligently weaves two narratives into one another: One is set in 1956 and involves a rescue mission to get a woman out of Czechoslovakia, aided by the Vatican while another plot line is set in German-occupied Moravia and Prague during WW2. Both plots involve Magdalena, a Jewish woman, and her gentile husband Felix, under-ground hiding and resistance fighters, an assassination plot. The suspense will keep you close to the edge of your seat. The book is both, entertaining with its dramatic curve, and also educational and insightful for those of us who have only basic knowledge of life in Czechoslovakia during and especially after WW2. Dougherty skilfully portrays life and its difficulties for Jews, Czechs and gypsies under the Nazis with excellently drawn characters, while also providing some lesser known facts and historical events in Czechia and Slovakia; in particular a show trial in 1952 really showed me how little I knew about the post-war period. Although the level of suspense is always high in the rewarding way of great underground spy thrillers, it never loses sight of the seriousness of the times. The bone church of the title is a small Roman Catholic chapel in Sedlec, a suburb of Kutná Hora in the Czech Republic and contains artistically arranged bones from skeletons to form decorations and furnishings for the chapel. Its symbolism and function as returning focal point for the story contributes to the artful and ever so stylish canvass that the author is painting on. Dougherty has a sharp and observing mind that can quickly draw a picture, scene or a character with only a few well-chosen words and attributes, but her descriptions go beyond bare skeletons and show how well-researched the book is and how competent the writing. Her understanding of the human psyche makes her characters either likeable or laughable but always memorable. Her dry sense of humour and wit liven the novel in a welcomed, understated way. Corruption and underhand dealings are seen for what they are, as is naivety. It is hard to pitch irony in a serious novel but the author has done a perfect job at it. The writing is authentic, stylish, realistic and very addictive. 

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