• Gary Toyn

Midwest Book Review: For Malice and Mercy

For Malice and Mercy is a World War II novel that stands out from the crowd, embracing facets of belief, prejudice, battle, and change in a manner that is multifaceted, complex, and satisfyingly realistic. No World War II fiction collection should be without this wide-ranging story of mystery, struggle, and social and political dilemmas.


Independent book reviews are hard to come by, which is why I was so pleased to receive this wonderful review from the well respected Midwest Book Review:


For Malice and Mercy is a World War II novel that focuses on events in the U.S.


German immigrants Karl and Marta Meyer are arrested as spies after they visit their homeland and return, only to find that Hitler's threat has brought America into war.

Perhaps part of this novel's power comes from the fact that it's based on the true story of a German-American family from Utah. The parents were targeted as Nazi sympathizers, sent to an internment camp, then forcefully deported to Germany as pawns in FDR's top-secret prisoner swap with the Third Reich.

These events and more come to life in a story that embraces the extent of not just prejudice (which is the usual depiction of World War II concentration camp experiences), but the political maneuverings between nations at war which affect the lives and outcomes of citizens and immigrants alike.

This feature is perhaps the greatest strength of this story as it evolves, setting it apart from the typical World War II milieu and adding an extra dimension of social and political inspection and insight to the drama.

Gary W. Toyn moves the scenarios from America to German soil, exploring the interactions between fighters, spies, farmers and ordinary people, and those who fight battles on different levels.

As fighters contemplate the difficulties of going home to confront family and ideals left behind, Toyn reveals many underlying facets to the struggle that come to life in the hearts of not just men, but women who participated in the war: "...you’ll have plenty of time to get back and still see your folks.” He tilted his head in a gentle, reprimanding way. “Billie. They haven’t seen you in a while.” “Look, I haven’t got a whole bunch of reasons to go back to Utah.” “I thought you had a boyfriend there?” “No. I don’t have a boyfriend,” she said, her eyes glancing at her feet. “I have a close friend who’s somewhere in the Pacific.”

While these moments may not seem to be the driving force of the story, they each contribute a piece to the bigger picture of what it meant and how it felt to live in rapidly changing times that challenged personal goals and visions.

For Malice and Mercy is a World War II novel that stands out from the crowd, embracing facets of belief, prejudice, battle, and change in a manner that is multifaceted, complex, and satisfyingly realistic. No World War II fiction collection should be without this wide-ranging story of mystery, struggle, and social and political dilemmas.

D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review


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