On the Bookshelf...

The Rumor Game

Thomas Mullen

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 from the multi-award-nominated author. 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, 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.

The Rumor Game by Thomas Mullen is a really good read. Set in Boston in the 1940's it tells of the prejudice and seedy world of America in that period. The two main protagonists are well drawn characters who both have their own quirks. What binds them together is their overwhelming need for justice.

After the murder of a Jewish immigrant in catholic Boston, local journalist Anne is investigating a seedy nazi sympathetic group who are spreading racial hatred among the catholic communities. On top of this she suspects that the local mob is taking over the unions. Devon, an FBI agent is investigating the murder along with vetting people for the government. They're thrown together to solve what's really happening.

It's amazing to look back and see how openly antisemitic lots in the US were in the 40's. Most didn't want to support the war in Europe and at the time there were lots who were openly fascist in their views. In some ways looking at the Trump era, this hasn't changed that much I guess.

I really enjoyed the story and the two main characters. Anne was fiercely independent whilst for all Devons womanising, there was something decent underneath the surface. My first Thomas Mullen book. A nice addition to the library.

Thanks to Netgallery and Little Brown Book Group for the eARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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Review by
AJ Steel
January 23, 2024

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