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The Golden Doves


The Golden Doves

Martha Hall Kelly, the bestselling author of LILAC GIRLS, LOST ROSES and SUNFLOWER SISTERS, makes a triumphant return with THE GOLDEN DOVES. This impressive stand-alone novel follows two best friends as they join the resistance against the Nazi regime and then reunite years later to finish what they started.

Josie Anderson is a devoted Nazi hunter, the best in her U.S. Army counterintelligence group. She literally wrote the book --- SS Blood-Group Tattoos and the Self-Inflicted Wounds Used to Eradicate Them --- that helps her and her men track down former Nazis. It also enables them to identify the true, lifelong believers from the ones who were just following orders to determine who can now be pardoned and who should be forced to pay for their crimes against humanity.

"Once again, Martha Hall Kelly breaks the mold for riveting, meticulously researched historical fiction with searingly current ties to our own headlines and political climate.... While I expect to say this about every book of hers, THE GOLDEN DOVES is pure perfection."

But lately Josie’s work has become a bit more uncomfortable. With Russia developing a bomb and announcing themselves as a worldwide threat, the race for good scientists is on. While everyone agrees that Hitler’s regime was monstrous, they can’t ignore the fact that he selected only the best of the best for his scientists and doctors. With these men being tried for their crimes or escaping to South America, time is of the essence if the United States is going to be able to find, rehabilitate and hire them to help prepare the country for the next war. Josie understands the urgency, but unlike her captain and colleagues, she has a very different view of the Nazi regime. After all, it was only seven years ago that she was housed in its notorious Ravensbrück concentration camp. (Devoted readers of Kelly will no doubt shudder at this name. If you’re new to her work, know that this was a true house of horrors for Jewish women during Hitler’s reign.)

If there is one person who understands Josie’s discomfort, it’s Arlette LaRue, a gorgeous Parisian woman who faced the same horrors that keep Josie up at night. Though they have remained great friends, their lives have taken very different paths. While Josie spends her days consumed by all things Nazi, Arlette has taken up a quiet life in a bakery in France, where she works alongside fellow Ravensbrück survivors. But a similar obsession haunts her: the son who was ripped from her arms at Ravensbrück, but whom she believes must be alive somewhere. After all, his own father was a Nazi, and if there was one thing the Germans prided themselves on, it was preserving the Aryan race.

However, Ravensbrück wasn’t the meeting place for these lifelong friends. Their journey began much sooner, when they took up the fight for the resistance in 1940s France. At the time they were not known as Josie and Arlette, but as the Golden Doves, expert thieves of Nazi intelligence whose work carved them into fierce intellectuals, cunning spies and unstoppable survivors.

When we meet Josie and Arlette, each has just stumbled upon a break in her obsession. For Josie, this means the chance to hunt down the evil Dr. Snow, a Nazi virologist whose cruel, inhumane experiments at Ravensbrück not only deformed and mutilated several women, but also took Josie’s own mother from her. Finding Dr. Snow will mean gaining closure on a lifetime of pain, but also will help her rise in the ranks of her male-dominated group and receive the respect she deserves.

Across the Atlantic, Arlette has just met the charming Luc Minau, whose work with the Hope Home enables him to place wartime orphans with loving families and, occasionally, reunite them with their grieving mothers. Luc tells Arlette that they house these children in French Guiana, working with local tribes to teach them to be good members of society, regardless of whether or not they are ever adopted. He believes that one of the boys in his orphanage is Arlette’s son, Willie.

As the two women set off to build better futures, their past work as spies comes racing back as they reunite with one another, fellow survivors and even some of the most vicious doctors from their time at Ravensbrück, now living full lives as expatriates in South America. With Russia, Israel, the U.S. and Germany all fighting to be the first to discover and claim some of the former Nazis they're hunting, they're forced to resume their lives as spies or risk everything they've built since leaving Ravensbrück…and everything they hope to build in their future. One thing is certain: the Golden Doves are back in action.

Once again, Martha Hall Kelly breaks the mold for riveting, meticulously researched historical fiction with searingly current ties to our own headlines and political climate. Her ability to write believable, flawed, brave and previously unrecognized women is unparalleled. Although readers of her earlier works will see much of the same talents on display here, she takes her narrative a step further by adding an unrelenting, jaw-dropping thriller plotline to the mix as the women race toward answers --- about their own lives and the truth about Nazi reformation and rehabilitation.

I can’t think of an author equal to Martha Hall Kelly in writing, technique or craftsmanship. While I expect to say this about every book of hers, THE GOLDEN DOVES is pure perfection. It’s yet another blazing triumph from one of our most meticulous researchers, roaring celebrators of women’s history, and breathtakingly vivid prose writers.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on April 21, 2023

The Golden Doves
by Martha Hall Kelly