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on June 18, 2010
As an avid fan of historical fiction, particularly the period between WWI and WWII, I found "Heart of Lies" to be riveting and highly enjoyable while maintaining scrupulous attention to historical detail. Although the novel is replete with intrigue, white knuckle adventure and spicy romance it does not do this at the expense of historical realism. The description of Europe and Shanghai during this exciting period is as interesting and compelling as the plot and the characters in the novel. This was truly a novel that I "couldn't put down". As the author's first novel it is a remarkably impressive accomplishment. And for those who love sequels (as I do), the second novel "Deceptive Intentions" is also an absolute gem.
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on June 18, 2010
"Heart of Lies" is nearly impossible to put down. If you enjoy human drama on a sweeping scale, this novel has it all: action, intrigue, and passion played out among fascinating characters. ML Malcolm brings a breathless story to life with great skill as she transports us around the world from Europe to Asia to America during the war-boom-bust-war years of 1900-1940. I can't recall ever reading a novel where a sweeping plot was delivered with such fluidity and concision. The pages practically turn themselves, and yet the many details of time and place that make the story live and breathe don't feel lost or rushed in the process. This is a remarkable achievement. Oh, and did I mention that the tale itself is fantastic?

ML Malcolm has written a literate person's guilty pleasure. "Heart of Lies" is a masterful combination of quality and fun and deserves great success. Buy it, and help to insure that a sequel comes soon. I can't wait!
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on June 29, 2010
As one who is always deep into two or more books at a time, I had to drop everything else I was reading once I began "Heart of Lies" because I simply could not put it down! The plot was thick but, at the same time, easy to follow because it was well structured. For me, a book is a gem when I see pictures as I read..not because the author's use of adjectives is so terrific, but because my imagination is fully engaged into doing so. "Heart of Lies" conjured up sights and sounds and smells from page to page and, when it ended, I was totally ready for it to go on and on and on. I can't wait for the sequel, to see what happens to Leo and Martha and Maddy, to see where it takes them and me, as the journey continues.

Congrats to M. L. Malcolm! Her writing is first-class!
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Is your book club looking to go on a grand journey this summer? You need go no further than M.L. Malcolm's international adventure, Heart of Lies. Fans of Water for Elephants will enjoy the historical aspects of the book. Devotees of Shanghai Girls will love the inside glimpse at the exotic settings--including Shanghai, Budapest, Paris, and Manhattan. Followers of Ken Follett, Jeffrey Archer and David Baldacci will love the political intrigue angle. And admirers of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet will love the fact that Heart of Lies is also an old-fashioned love story.

Born a Hungarian peasant, Leo Hoffman leverages his good looks, wit, and a gift for languages and social mimicry to become a rich and powerful man, only to have circumstances and naive choices from his past threaten everything he holds dear.

Set in Europe, Asia and The New World, Leo's escapades sweep you across the globe. The tumultuous history of the time period--1920's and 30's--helps to drive the plot. I love this period of history between the two World Wars, and Ms. Malcolm sprinkles some wonderful tidbits plucked from history into Leo's story, such as the Hungarian counterfeiting scandal of 1925, the manipulation of the rubber market in 1926, Chiang Kai-shek's weakening hold on China, the bombing of Shanghai in 1937, and the Japanese invasion of Shanghai, the rise of Hitler's power, and the Jews fleeing from Germany and Europe...Whew! OK--maybe she does more than `sprinkle'...There's definitely some meat to the history piece!

Although Malcolm tells a fast-moving adventure story, it is not at the expense of the characters, dialogue or prose. Ms. Malcolm's vivid descriptions and meticulous research are reflected in the language of Leo's story. Here's what she writes as the soldiers returned to Hungary after their defeat in WWI:
"Honor and country had called them to the battlefield of Europe and then abandoned them there, where a weary grayness drifted into their eyes, settled into their hearts, and wrapped around their souls, souls that had been slit open and sucked dry by the beast of the Great War."

Besides Leo, you will root for the two loves of Leo's life: his wife, Martha, the great beauty with the lovely voice, and his daughter, Maddy, with her infectious laughter and gift for music. You'll also meet two characters you will love to hate: Amelia, the scheming temptress, and Lui Tue-Sheng, the powerful head of the Chinese mafia who has a secret hold on Leo's life. Although Leo denounces his heritage and reinvents himself time after time, he seems to be unable to leave his past behind him--which threatens his future and that of his family.

And though the book is set up for a sequel to follow, I felt the major plot pieces were suitably closed so that the reader feels satisfied, and yet eagerly awaiting that next book for more of Leo and Maddy's exploits. (Watch for Heart of Deception releasing next year.)

Ms. Malcolm deals with themes that book clubs will want to discuss such as Survival and Perseverance; Deception and Forgiveness; Passion and Love. There are reading group questions and an author's interview in the back, and the author is available for a visit or phone call to your book club.

Be prepared for your book club to fall in love with Heart of Lies. I sure did.
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on June 18, 2010
Once I started this book, I couldn't put it down. Most of the story takes place in Budapest, Paris and Shangai from 1900-1940. The main character, Leo Hoffman, is born into a Hungarian peasant family. Through a chance encounter as a child, Leo is raised and educated by a wealthy Jewish couple in Budapest. His amazing gift for languages opens doors for him in the upper echelons of society.

Leo is drafted into the military and when he returns to post-war Budapest, realizes that his life of privilege is over. Through his job as a hotel concierge, he meets some ruthless men who set him up as the fall guy for a crime to be committed in Paris. When he comprehends what he has done, he escapes to Shangai, "a place that asks no questions." Instead Leo realizes that even in this place of criminals, he can't escape his past. Trying to protect his wife (or is it to protect her image of him?) he keeps his shady business a secret from her.

The amount of research that went into writing this novel is evident because of the accuracy of details. You feel as if you are there. There is also a beautiful, tragic love story within these pages. This is an excellent choice for a book club.
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on June 18, 2010
Each day we are forced to make choices; and good or bad we must live with the consequences. In Silent Lies, our main character. Leo, is confronted with life choices that guide his mysterious life deeper and deeper into the unknown. I truly enjoyed reading this book and felt his anguish as he scrambled to closet his former self. While he does emerge as a linguist extraodinaire and businessman, he can never esacape his past. The history in this novel is rich and well-documented and therefore I would love to recommend this book as a borderline historical fiction. You will probably have a love/hate for Leo as I did, but that makes the literary journey all the more fun. Malcolm writing style is easy to read and you you must add it to your bedside table for your summer reading!!
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VINE VOICEon August 10, 2010
I'm going to throw this out there, right off the top, I LOVED THIS BOOK! Prepare for the gushing.

This story is fast-paced, beautifully detailed, and really sets the reader right into the time and place - which could be challenging because there are several very different settings. The story is initially set in a couple of European countries - Hungary, France, and Germany. These are all areas that I am familiar with. Then the story shifts to Shanghai, China - this is where everything was new to me. China, between the two World Wars, was an extremely different place than it had always been and how it would become in the future. Many of the world powers had influence there at the time. I enjoyed learning about the areas where wealthy Europeans and Americans lived and the culture there. Toward the end of the book we move into the United States. Each of these locations were like characters themselves the way they were wrought out by this author.

Right from the very beginning I was invested in Leo's story. He was a very unique person who was very driven for what he wanted - which happed to be a beautiful woman he meets by chance. His passion was so palpable. Although I can't imagine myself ever being in some of the situations that he ended up in, it was so believable to the character and the time period that I was instantly absorbed. I think I fell in love with this character!

This is the second book that I have read recently that was set between the World Wars. It was enlightening to see how the impending war affected different places in the world - in this book you can see three very different perspectives. You really get to see how the tensions affect the people who are just trying to live their lives and get out from under World War I, only to be thrown into the impending World War II.

I honestly do not have one single bad thing to say about this book. From the time I picked it up I couldn't put it down. This is certainly a book you should not miss!

I am now anxiously awaiting the follow-up novel, Heart of Deception! It is scheduled to be released in April of 2011 (so very far away) and sounds so exciting.

This book was received from the publisher in exchange for a review and this was also posted on my blog.
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on May 3, 2011
"Heart of Lies" by M.L. Malcolm is the fictional tale of a family, inspired by the author's husband, which takes place after World War I until the early days of World War I.

Leo Hoffman, ex Hungarian solider who fought for the losing side, has an ear for languages and ambition. However, Leo is tangling with the wrong people and is being forced by circumstances to leave Europe for the perceived safety of Shanghai.

Shanghai is good to Leo, he becomes a wealthy man, meets the right type of people and marries Martha, the love of his life. However, the Japanese invasion puts and abrupt end to their fairytale life and Leo is forced to make some excruciating decisions.

"Heart of Lies" by M.L. Malcolm is a well written novel, with interesting characters and a fast read. Ms. Malcolm certainly knows how to write exotic scenery and move a story forward. The international setting is exquisite, taking place mostly in Shanghai, the reader travels to Hungary, France and New York.

While I did enjoy the book I felt that the mystery was one of the weakest points, as it is more a character study of a man trying to run away from his past. World War I and World War II are mentioned only in passing, but that's understandable as the book starts in the aftermath of the first war and end in the beginning of the second, while mostly taking place in the sanctuary of Shanghai.

The book is supposed to be romantic, but I didn't find it so. While I did find the characters interesting, I didn't think they were well developed and fell somewhat flat. I wasn't sold on Leo and Martha's relationship - OK, she's beautiful and he's handsome - but there is more to a relationship than beauty or a damn good one night stand.

That being said, the story did capture my attention and Ms. Malcolm writes in a style which is both well written and very easy to read. I have to commend Ms. Malcolm for trying to weave several different genres into one book - part historical fiction, part romance, part adventure and business intrigue. Maybe it didn't work as well as she hoped, but it is a great effort and an interesting read from that standpoint.

My advantage of reading this book is that I already had the second one "Heart of Deception" on my shelf. So instead of reading it as a standalone novel, I knew there was more to come.
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on July 30, 2010
I enjoyed this book. The historical details are facinating, the settings range from Hungary to Paris to Munich to Shanghai during the time between the two World Wars. The intense love between two strangers so unexpected. Although the book jumps through time the story flows with a continuity that does not distract the reader but rather makes total sense. The manipulation of the main character by those who aren't honest provides excitement and intrigue to the story and a wonder at just how far he will go to make sure that the love of his life has a perfect life. The only problem I had with it was when it started to focus on Maddy's life rather than her father's. Although relevant it seemed to be an added appendage rather than a continuation of the original story. I read the book through in one sitting.
I received this book free from Harper Collins as part of their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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Hungarian Leo Hoffman has an innate ability to grasp languages rather quickly. He plans to use his skills, but his dreams of a better life ends temporarily he hopes as WWI flames across Europe with his homeland, the Austro-Hungarian Empire lined up on the side of Germany.

By 1925 with the combat over for several years, Leo tries to start anew using his uncanny skills. However, bad luck shadows him when he gets unintentionally entangled in an international counterfeiting scheme. Before he can expedite himself from that mess, he becomes wanted across the continent for a myriad of other felons including murder. He flees with his beloved Martha, whom he fell in love with at first sight in Paris. Leo hopes they can escape Europe for Shanghai where he prays he can sell valuable stolen treasure, but even in the Chinese city, he finds people who want him dead.

This is an exciting historical thriller starring a series of victims of people turning criminal to survive in the post war depression in East Europe. The story line is fast-paced as the linguistics expert lacks common sense. Although the key support cast is one dimensional never moving passed a singularity, readers will enjoy the twisting Heart of Lies as mid 1920s economically depressed Europe and to a lesser degree New York and Shanghai come vividly to life.

Harriet Klausner
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