About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Series of Books on WW II on Choices and Actions

Over the next 2-3 weeks I am going to be putting up posts that relate to crime and mysteries but are not crime fiction. Instead, I will be writing about a series of non-fiction books on World War II that do not involve battles and strategies. Instead, they deal with the actions of people in Europe, mainly non-military, and the choices they made in and around the war.

The first review is of The Hotel on Place Vendome by Tilar J. Mazzeo. It is biography of the Ritz Hotel in Paris especially during the German occupation of the city during the war. Many schemes were conceived in the Ritz and a great deal of champagne consumed and Ernest Hemingway makes an appearance.

The second’s title sets out crime is at the heart of the book. It is Hitler’s Art Thief by Susan Ronald. Hildebrand Gurlitt made a fortune before and during the war through dealing in art works legitimately purchased, bought from desperate Europeans, confiscated from Jews, effectively looted from institutions and occasionally simply stolen. His legacy survived the war and in recent years his son made the father infamous.

The third is Church of Spies by Mark Riebling. Its sub-title of “The Pope’s Secret War Against Hitler” encapsulates the theme of the book. It provides an interesting contrast to David Cornwall’s book, Hitler’s Pope. I had not read of the secret activities of Pope Pius XII and the Catholic Church during WW II.

The fourth book is Seduced by Hitler by Adam LeBor and Roger Boyes. The book explores the decisions made in Germany and across Europe during the war by all types of people. It delves into how the Nazis sought to draw people to their cause. We usually think of Nazi coercion rather than Nazi seduction.

In the reviews and accompanying posts I will occasionally refer to books in the quartet both before and after they have been reviewed on the blog.

There are larger than life stories that would challenge fictional credibility but are true.

Overall the books provide an array of approaches to the issues of choices and actions of WW II Europeans.

I invite you to join me on the journey that begins Sunday.


  1. Sounds very interesting, Bill. I will be waiting for them.

    1. TracyK: Thanks for the comment. Real life will be imitating fiction.

  2. Sometimes, truth if stranger than fiction. I don't know if any writer can describe in fiction the real depth of the horrors that went on at the hands of Germany, Italy, Vichy France, etc.

    1. KathyD.: Thanks for the comment. There were plenty of horrors. These books deal with the subtler horrors.

  3. This sounds really interesting, Bill. It's often those decisions, made by individual people or groups of people, that have had the most impact on history, and I'm looking forward to your posts. The books themselves seem interesting, too.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. We long to believe the best in people but it happened too little in WW II Europe.