The Rumor Game

The Rumor Game, another gripping thriller from Thomas Mullen (Blind Spots; Darktown; The Revisionists), explores how rumors can take a new urgency when used as a political tool to undermine the country and its soldiers during World War II.

Boston Star reporter Anne Lemire knows political rumors can morph into propaganda, spreading hate and making Americans feel "confused, terrified, alarmed" in a "newly dangerous world." For her weekly column, the Rumor Clinic, Anne dispels destructive gossip, such as sailors in Hawaii turning green from chemicals after Pearl Harbor or Nazis poisoning lobsters. Yet her editor balks at covering the rise in antisemitism and attacks on Jewish men, including her younger brother.

FBI Special Agent Devon Mulvey's "essential war work" also involves chasing rumors regarding industrial espionage, such as factories targeted by Nazi sympathizers or German spies landing in Long Island. Devon's work intersects with Anne's as he looks into a murder at a munitions plant while she tracks the source of pro-Nazi pamphlets distributed by businesses. The two become embroiled in an espionage plot and a crime syndicate.

The best historical fiction evaluates the past while offering a perspective on the present, and Mullen keeps the suspense high in presenting the political climate of the time, persuasively illustrating the antisemitism that, chillingly, echoes 2024 events. The experiences of Anne, who recently learned she is Jewish, and Devon, one of the few Catholics in the FBI, collectively represent the era's religious bigotry. Anne and Devon knew each other as children, and when they reunite as adults and intellectual equals, their impressive know-how enhances The Rumor Game. --Oline H. Cogdill, freelance reviewer 

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