A thriller steeped in European culture like The Salzburg Connection, Refiner's Fire serves up serious suspense to avid fiction readers. This book's "secret underground society" is not Nazi war criminals, however-it's the persecuted Christian church. Yuri and Alexander Deyneko, separated as teens in postwar times, are reunited thirty-five years later in 1980s Bucharest. Now on separate sides of Nicolae Ceausescu's Iron Curtain, the secret life of one brother, a top army official and clandestine Christian, and the ambition of the other- now the American Ambassador to Romania-puts them on a collision course with each other. Fates hang on an issue of conscience. Great writing propels readers through the plot toward a gripping climax.
Bambola bases this novel on first-hand accounts of atrocities committed under Nicolae Ceau sescu. When, in the wake of World War II, a Romanian woman had to sell one son to an American officer to escape a refugee camp, she impressed the officer's name on the memory of her remaining son. Forty years later, Alexander Wainwright accepts a posting to Romania, and a spy, Col. Yuri Deyneko, is immediately attached to the new ambassador. Yuri is the only one who knows that he is Alexander's brother, and when he sees how cold this man is, he wishes it weren't so. Under Ceau sescu's regime, Christians have been forced underground, and Alexander is ordered not to rock the boat. But when a plea to help them comes from both his wife and Yuri, he turns to God for answers. By turns hopeful and devastating, this novel powerfully portrays the unbearable cruelty of humans and the helplessness of the Christians, whose faith never falters. Writing as Margaret Miller, Bambola won the 1998 Small Press Editor's Choice Award for her first novel, A Vessel of Honor, and her new work deserves a place in all collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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July 31, 2006
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