Friday, October 8, 2010

Heart of Lies by M.L. Malcolm

Heart of Lies: A NovelBook synopsis from author's official website:
Leo Hoffman was born with a gift for languages. When his dreams for the future are destroyed by World War I, the dashing young Hungarian attempts to use his rare talent to rebuild his life, only to find himself inadvertently embroiled in an international counterfeiting scheme. Suddenly Leo is wanted across the European continent for a host of crimes, including murder. Left with no options, he must escape to Shanghai with his lover, carrying with him a stolen treasure that could be his salvation . . . or his death warrant. But the gangsters who control the decadent Asian city have no intention of letting him outrun his past. And when the Japanese invade, one wrong move could cost Leo Hoffman everything he holds dear.
An epic tale of intrigue, passion, and adventure, Heart of Lies heralds the arrival of a remarkable writer.
Heart of Lies truly is a page-turner. Which is sometimes difficult to achieve when you write a historical fiction novel. But Ms. Malcolm makes it look easy and natural.  I don't mean to take anything from debut authors but a lot of times that very first novel seems like a test ride and they improve as they write more books. Heart of Lies however doesn't read like a debut at all. It reads instead like a book written by a seasoned writer. The pace and action are flawless, everything falls into place at the right time and there is enough difficult and sad things happening to make the story of Leo's life believable. Leo Hoffman is a main character and also the most likable in my opinion. Driven by the want of revenge, he gets himself in life-threatening trouble that will shape his whole life. But he also finds love that will be his saving grace and a force to keep going and not giving up. Despite some of his bad choices, I liked him because of his capacity for loving another human being so much. I know that it probably is more a romantic notion than anything else and real life rarely works this way, but it was just pure fun to let myself be immersed in the world of Leo's complicated, yet somehow chivalric feelings.

The action of Heart of Lies takes place between the two World Wars, mainly in Shanghai. This was an interesting aspect of the novel because I don't know much about the political and historical scene in that part of the world, in that period.  I enjoyed reading about the decadence, the lavish parties and the life of the rich that in reality turned out to be so fragile in the face of an impending war. All and all, there wasn't much in this intriguing tale of love, adventure and espionage that I didn't enjoy, if anything at all. If you're looking for some fun reading, with a little bit of tears, nail-biting, anticipation of what's coming next and a good look into history, then Ms. Malcom's Heart of Lies is the one book you should try. And the best part is, there is book two, Heart of Deception coming out soon.

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Special thanks to Nicole B. from The Book Report Network for sending me a copy of this book for review.