Review: Days of Atonement

Reviews - Days of Atonement

star PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred review) Michael Gregorio. St. Martin's Minotaur/Dunne, $24.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-312-37644-4
A few years after the traumatic events in Critique of Criminal Reason (2006), Napoleon Bonaparte's troops still occupy Prussia in Gregorio's outstanding second historical. The residents of Lotingen who haven't fled their homes, including magistrate Hanno Stiffeniis and his family, live in a constant state of fear. A chance encounter at a formal dinner with Colonel Lavedrine-a French officer interested in criminology-leads Stiffeniis, who learned a novel approach to criminal investigation from legendary philosopher Immanuel Kant in Critique, to look into the gruesome murder of the three small children of Prussian Maj. Bruno Gottewald and the disappearance of his wife. When Stiffeniis travels to the military garrison where Gottewald is posted to inform him of his loss, the sleuth finds that the major has also been killed. Gregorio again demonstrates a rare gift for constructing a compelling whodunit rich with the kinds of psychological insights typical of the work of such contemporary crime masters as Ruth Rendell and Minette Walters. Readers will race through the pages to reach the solution. (Apr.)

 


 

star USA LIBRARY JOURNAL Gregorio, Michael. Days of Atonement: A Mystery. Thomas Dunne Books: St. Martin's Press. Apr. 2008. c.384p. ISBN 978-0-312-37644-4. $24.95 (starred review).
Verdict: This erudite psychological thriller will surely keep readers on edge as they mull over every disturbing detail of the case. Stiffeniis clever crime-scene sketches, Bruno's bloody letter, and Immanuel Kant's manuscript add up to a complex, hair-raising adventure. For all history buffs who enjoy reading historical fiction - and especially those who cannot live without murder, mayhem, and intrigue.
Background: Readers who enjoyed Gregorio's first historical mystery, Critique of Criminal Reason, set in 18th-century French-occupied Prussia will be happy to know that Prussian magistrate Hanno Stiffeniis and wife Helena are back in this bone-chilling sequel. When three Prussian children are found lined up across a bed in a cabin in Lotingen, their throats slit, with their mother nowhere to be found, the heavy task of crime-solving falls to Stiffeniis and French criminologist Col. Serge Lavedrine. Stiffeniis must relate the news of the dead children to their father, a Prussian major who also turns up dead.

- Gloria Creed-Dikeogu, Ottawa Univ. Lib., KS.

 


 

star BOOKLIST Issue: March 15, 2008
Days of Atonement. Gregorio, Michael (Author)
Apr 2008. 384 p. St. Martin's/Minotaur/Thomas Dunne, hardcover, $24.95. (9780312376444).
"Kant dared to hypothesize the unthinkable." In this enthralling sequel to Critique of Criminal Reason (2006), Kant's intellectual daring inspires not one but two sleuths investigating an unthinkable atrocity... The vertiginous plot twists ultimately validate a Kantian wisdom that defies the grave. Fusing philosophical insight with psychological subtlety, Gregorio endows an often-predictable genre with remarkable substance.

-Bryce Christensen

 


 

From Kirkus In turbulent 19th-century Prussia, a magistrate is summoned from his country refuge to solve a heinous multiple murder.
Man of letters and narrator Hanno Stiffeniis and his wife Helena attend Count Aldebrand Dittersdorf's annual ball with reservations. In the year since the previous gala, the French army led by Napoleon has taken control of Prussia, and Stiffeniis and Helena live in a kind of exile. At the ball, Stiffeniis is drawn into a heated discussion on the work of Immanuel Kant, with whom he studied and later collaborated in solving a baffling murder (Critique of Criminal Reason, 2006). His beloved mentor, who advocated psychological as well as forensic analysis, has been dead less than a year. Now the Count's exchange with a sneering French colonel named Lavedrine leaves him wondering about his safety under the new regime, a feeling heightened hours later when Lavedrine and some soldiers rouse him from sleep and whisk him away to a remote cabin where three children and their mother have been brutally murdered. Colonel Lavedrine, who's interested in both Kant and criminology, will supervise Stiffeniis's investigation, which constantly threatens to affront political sensitivities. The victims are the wife and children of Bruno Gottewald, a Prussian soldier stationed on the Russian front. There Stiffeniis must venture, endangering both himself and the family he leaves behind.
Gregorio's ambitious second novel successfully suggests the rococo fiction of its era.

 


 

From BookLoons Reviewed by Tim Davis
The highly recommended Days of Atonement is a compelling sequel to the critically and popularly successful Critique of Criminal Reason (previously reviewed for BookLoons by this reviewer) which comes from Michael Gregorio (the pseudonym of an immensely talented husband-and-wife writing team: Daniela de Gregorio and Michael G. Jacob).

Days of Atonement fulfils its implicit promise to satisfy readers on several levels: it is simultaneously a high-quality mystery, intriguing historical fiction, and an erudite literary novel in which complex characterizations, provocative themes, and pulse-pounding tension combine to make this a powerful tale of crimes and punishments. Don't miss it!

 


 

star LIBRARY JOURNAL (USA) (starred review) Gregorio, Michael. Days of Atonement: A Mystery. Thomas Dunne Books: St. Martin's Press. Apr. 2008. c.384p. ISBN 978-0-312-37644-4. $24.95 (starred review).
Verdict: This erudite psychological thriller will surely keep readers on edge as they mull over every disturbing detail of the case. Stiffeniis' clever crime-scene sketches, Bruno's bloody letter, and Immanuel Kant's manuscript add up to a complex, hair-raising adventure. For all history buffs who enjoy reading historical fiction-and especially those who cannot live without murder, mayhem, and intrigue.
Background: Readers who enjoyed Gregorio's first historical mystery, Critique of Criminal Reason, set in 18th-century French-occupied Prussia will be happy to know that Prussian magistrate Hanno Stiffeniis and wife Helena are back in this bone-chilling sequel. When three Prussian children are found lined up across a bed in a cabin in Lotingen, their throats slit, with their mother nowhere to be found, the heavy task of crime-solving falls to Stiffeniis and French criminologist Col. Serge Lavedrine. Stiffeniis must relate the news of the dead children to their father, a Prussian major who also turns up dead.
- Gloria Creed-Dikeogu, Ottawa Univ. Lib., KS.