The Rumor Game
by Thomas Mullen
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Pub Date 27 Feb 2024 | Archive Date 12 Mar 2024
St. Martin's Press, Minotaur Books
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.
"Though the story is firmly anchored in its time and place, and Mullen renders the environment in precise period detail, its themes are thoroughly relevant to contemporary readers. A remarkably good book, smartly conceived and beautifully executed."—Booklist
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 66 members
Thomas Mullen delivers a riveting and atmospheric historical crime thriller with "The Rumor Game." Set against the backdrop of World War II-era Boston, this novel masterfully captures the tension and unease of a city divided by wartime suspicions and fascist elements. With compelling characters, intricate plotting, and a richly detailed historical setting, Mullen crafts a story that keeps readers on the edge of their seats from beginning to end.
In June 1943, as the war rages on, reporter Anne Lemire finds herself at the heart of a web of rumors, misinformation, and fear that grips the city. Writing the Rumor Clinic column, Anne works tirelessly to debunk harmful rumors circulating in the community—some spawned by Axis forces, others by mere gossip and ignorance. However, Anne's hunger for a more significant story pushes her to uncover the truth behind Nazi propaganda disseminated by local businesses, leading her to a dangerous path of espionage and conspiracy.
Special Agent Devon Mulvey of the FBI, a devout Catholic navigating his own complexities, is tasked with preventing wartime sabotage and investigating suspicious activities. When Anne's investigation into Nazi propaganda intersects with Devon's probe into the death of an immigrant factory worker, the two are drawn into a web of organized crime, domestic fascism, and espionage. As they navigate this treacherous landscape, their personal histories become intertwined, and the boundaries between friend and foe blur.
Mullen's meticulous attention to historical detail immerses readers in the wartime atmosphere of Boston, creating a palpable sense of time and place. The characters, from the determined and sharp-witted Anne to the complex and conflicted Devon, come alive on the pages, their struggles and motivations driving the narrative forward.
"The Rumor Game" masterfully weaves a narrative that explores the intersections of fear, loyalty, and deception. Mullen skillfully navigates the complex threads of espionage and intrigue, leading to revelations that challenge the characters' perceptions and reveal deeper layers of conspiracy. The novel's pacing is relentless, propelling readers through a maze of twists and turns that culminate in a thrilling and satisfying conclusion.
In "The Rumor Game," Thomas Mullen delivers an engrossing historical crime thriller that captures the essence of a city in turmoil and the individuals determined to uncover the truth, no matter the cost. With its gripping narrative, multidimensional characters, and evocative historical backdrop, this novel is a must-read for fans of historical fiction, espionage, and suspenseful storytelling.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this eARC.
I felt both pleased and honored to receive a copy of Thomas Mullen's The Rumor Game in return for a review, as I have followed this author's novels for years. Perhaps somewhat predictably, on my part, as I am such a fan of police procedurals as well as novels that remind us that the sins of the past must be reexamined to keep us from repeating them, Mullen's Darktown series is my favorite (he could have written dozens in this captivating series, I would still like up to buy a copy at every release date.
However, even with my adoration of mysteries and crime novels, Mr. Mullen's sheer genius when it comes to delicately opening our hearts and our minds, as when we read his novels they are the closest thing to true-life accounts that fiction can ever be. We fall in love a little with Mullen's characters, and it is the same with the wonderfully brash female reporter in this novel, who pushes herself to be heroic, although she worries deeply when she sees her own personality traits and dedication reflected in her little brother.
I have loved Thomas Mullen's creations for ages, it is as though he gives us a special window to witness past historical events or formative times, you feel like an invisible family member of the main characters in Mullen's novels. He is a very special author who, due to his skill in weaving a magical historical time that we feel so much a part of, his novels will always hold a place in my heart.
In the Rumor Game, Mullen's turns his very talented attention to the sins and nonsensical hatred, cruelty, judgement and prejudice surrounding World War II. Unfortunately, although we would prefer to imagine that the inequality of this time was restricted to Germany and Hitler's vile legacy, much to our shame, the United States and US citizens (as in EVERY shamefully prejudicial and hate-filled time) hated those who appeared or seemed to be "other" or "different" at least on the surface.
A beautiful novel and as usual, this talent author (without overtly doing so) reminds us of our countries past sins, while crafting an extremely captivating story, guaranteed to pull you in, you are so close to "there" when you read Mullen's novels, and this wonderful offering, about a few individualized who were quietly heroic, almost - is a gift that Mullen's deserves to feel proud to give us.
Until next time (my I do go ON, although this author deserves kudos for DAYS). Well, just set aside this clumsy "love letter to this author's talent" and as soon as it is on the shelves pick up a copy of The Rumor Game!