Shadow Ritual Is An Exciting Thriller With A Powerful Message; Review + Giveaway


The genre of thriller in literature is very broad. The majority of thrillers in modern times have plenty of action, plenty of conflict, etc. The problem is not that these books aren’t well-written, but they lack a message. My favorite thriller/espionage writer, the indomitable John Le Carré, wrote with a message in each of his books, and still at the age of 83 hopes his life’s work has not been for nothing.

I mention Le Carré because I believe that the authors of Shadow Ritual, Éric Giacometti and Jacques Ravenne, are the closest anyone has come to reaching Le Carré’s caliber in both writing thrillers to entertain and to convey a message.

Shadow Ritual, published for the first time in English, follows the investigation by Inspector Antoine Marcas into 2 murders, one in Rome and one in Jerusalem. Marcas soon finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy that stretches the entire continent of Europe. Paired with the resolute Jade Zewinski, who has a personal connection to one of the victims, they must decipher a mystery centuries in the making before it is too late.

Shadow Ritual is unique because of its balance. Inspector Marcas is a Freemason, but is fairly portrayed not in the corrupt manner the world thinks Freemasons are but as simply a part of his life. Freemasonry plays a large part in the conspiracy Marcas and Zewinski must unravel, but the authors, though divided in their views of Freemasons, find a moderate position that Marcas can hold firm to.

The historical influence on the events in the novel work well together and despite seeming disconnected at first the authors do an impeccable job of showing the connections they share with each other and the present. The research the authors conducted really shines through and gives the novel another dimension.

The 2 lead characters in Shadow Ritual, Antoine Marcas and Jade Zewinski, bring this novel into a high caliber of literary accomplishment. The characters are so realistic, unusual for thrillers, and we see them as the lead point for the novel, not the action. We understand Marcas as a man involved in things bigger than himself but puts justice above all else, which sometimes distracts him from smaller details. I see Zewinski as a truly powerful woman, often being more stubborn than Marcas but always dedicated to getting the job done well. This team work so well, and give each other such a fair amount of give and take that real-world detectives should look at this pair as a great example of an inspector duo.

Finally, Shadow Ritual has a message that truly needs to be heard. The novel shows how corrupt ultranationalism and extremism is, and how we must counteract the rising extremism with true understanding and justice. We must all join together to say “never again.”

Shadow Ritual puts Giacometti and Ravenne into the top tier of writers that effectively pair entertainment and meaning into their work. The times call for more writing like this, and I look forward to reading more of this author team’s work.

Éric Giacometti and Jacques Ravenne: 

Jacques Ravenne is a literary scholar
who has also written a biography of the Marquis de Sade and edited his letters. He loves to explore the hidden side of major historical events.

Eric Giacometti was an investigative reporter for a major French newspaper. He has covered a number of high-profile scandals
and has done exhaustive research in the area of freemasonry.

About The Translator: 

Anne Trager loves France so much she has lived there for 27 years and just can’t seem to leave. What keeps her there is a uniquely French mix of pleasure seeking and creativity. Well, that and the wine. In 2011, she woke up one morning and said, “I just can’t stand it anymore. There are way too many good books being written in France not reaching a broader audience.” That’s when she founded Le French Book to translate some of those books into English. The company’s motto is “If we love it, we translate it,” and Anne loves crime fiction, mysteries and detective novels.

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8 winners

3 print copies for US residents

5 digital copies for US or other residents


A Brutal But Spellbinding Story of a Family Torn Apart During World War II in Italy


Trieste is a novel about Haya Tedeschi, an old woman who sits in her home in northeastern Italy with her newspaper clippings and photographs. She has spent her life pouring over information, hoping to find her son, fathered by a SS Officer 62 years ago. Her son was taken from her by German officials, as a part of Himmler’s Lebensborn project, and has missed him ever since.

Reminiscing on her life as a Catholicized Jew, she deals with the haunting horror of the Italian Jewish massacre at the concentration camp in Trieste. The search for her son has brought her to maps, photographs and Nuremberg trials and testimonies that document in almost unbearable terms about the terrible events that occurred around her. In powerful language and innovative literary devices,Trieste documents the brutal reality of a life surrounded by tragedy and obsession over finding her lost son.

This book is an extremely important contribution to the study of World War II. It documents using fiction the fact of the tragedy at the little known concentration camp of Trieste. It uses dramatic photos, the Nuremberg trials and testimonies, and a list of all the 9000 Jews and political outcasts murdered at the death camp. Those literary devices allow us to search with Haya in her search for her son in an extremely close manner. Trieste develops a relationship between the reader and Haya, and also develops emotions to the ghosts of the murdered Jews that haunt Haya when she begins to realize her oblivion to the massacre that occurred all around her. Trieste is an addition to the study of World War II and brings emotion and relationship to a cruel and devastating era that haunts our society to this day.


Dasa Drndic is a distinguished Croatian novelist, playwright, and literary critic. She spent some years teaching in Canada and gained a MA in theater and communications as part of the Fulbright program. She teaches in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Rijeka. She lives in Rijeka, Croatia.

Translated by Ellen Elias-Bursac, who is the leading translator of Serbo-Croatian writing into English.

(Credit for author bio to the book itself, and the book photo is credited to the Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt, the publisher’s, website)