Burning Sorrow


286 pages
ISBN 0-394-22115-X
DDC C813'.54





Reviewed by Steven Lehman

Steven Lehman teaches English at John Abbot College in Montreal.


Burning Sorrow is an ingenious spy thriller set in the late 1930s,
during the prelude to World War II. The protagonist/villain is SS Major
Erich Starke, who goes on special undercover assignments in Spain,
Israel, and Italy. The heroic/romantic leads are played by Marc Rossi
and Julia Belmont, who are both American Jews. They expose Starke, and
in the process fall in love with each other. The drama unfolds against a
background of true historical characters and events. Pope Pius XI and
German General Reinhard Heydrich play major roles. (The title of the
novel is taken from the title of the 1937 Papal Encyclical in defense of
German Catholics, “With Burning Sorrow.”)

Characteristic of the genre, there is no deep reflection here on the
human condition. The good guys and bad guys are clearly demarcated with
hardly greater moral subtlety than a Rambo or James Bond story. But the
characters are convincingly developed and the plot is compelling. The
action-packed narrative sweeps the reader through a string of stunning
surprises to a most satisfying conclusion. Even those not devoted to spy
thrillers will find this novel fascinating.


Simon, Ted., “Burning Sorrow,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/12058.