5-Star Book Review: “The 45th Nail” by Michael Lahey & Ian Lahey
The Unforgettable Journey of an Old Soldier Coming to Terms with His Past
For almost his entire life, Bob Svenson has been told that his uncle, Jim Savorski, whom he remembers from his childhood as a larger-than-life figure, died in 1944 as a war hero in Italy during World War II. But Bob questions Jim’s true fate, along with the family’s refusal to discuss the circumstances of his heroic death, when 40 years after his uncle’s disappearance, he receives a Christmas card from Jim—including a rare and priceless Etruscan medallion and a somewhat cryptic invitation to come meet him overseas. This begins a series of unfortunate and seemingly random events for Bob as he arrives in Italy, after leaving his travel-phobic wife and young son behind in the United States, and begins his personal mission—to find out the truth about what happened to Uncle Jim.
Michael & Ian Lahey’s novel, “The 45th Nail”, opens as a light-hearted romp, with comedy at a highpoint, as Bob is beset by thieves and con-artists from the very moment he arrives in Italy. Robbed of all his money and possessions, he is left quite destitute from the moment he plants his feet on Italian soil. Despite his naivety, the loss of everything but his passport, and his inability to speak the language very well, it is only through the kindness of strangers that our protagonist manages to get by, making for some highly humorous situations and observations on life in general.
Weeks later, a chance meeting leads to contact with his uncle, and this is where Lahey’s novel really begins as he takes Bob on a long journey through the Italian countryside and the old soldier’s tortured past. The whole flavor of Lahey’s saga shifts to a more introspective and serious tone as—together—the two men travel down roads rarely revisited and face memories seldom wanting to be claimed. It is this exploration of Italy’s war-ravaged past that leads Bob to a better understanding of the tenuousness and tenacity of life while Jim ultimately comes to terms with his demons and meets his destiny.
One doesn’t really fall in love with the characters in Lahey’s novel, for each is flawed in a way that makes them somewhat unappealing. But spending time with them, examining their motives and finding out what makes them tick, one can see how they arrived at a point in their lives where their decisions were either based on insight or instinct. Lahey keenly demonstrates that insight and instinct are oftentimes abandoned when morals and ethics are pushed aside and replaced by a strong urge to survive. But grace and mercy can always be found in the common events of everyday life where troubled souls like Jim’s can seek solace, forgiveness, and salvation.
“The 45th Nail” appeals to several genres—It is an almanac rife with facts about battles won and lost, towns destroyed and reemerged, populations decimated and reborn, and enough trivia and statistics to satisfy even the most avid fact-finder. It is a travel guide on the Italy of the past and the present, replete with details on climate, terrain, lodgings, and local events. It is a history lesson listing each of the many ancient and modern armies and generals that swept over the mountains and plains, and looted banks and robbed mansions of their treasures. And it is a personal journal, one man’s biographical account—fictional perhaps, but clearly possible … and quite likely probable—of a lifetime spent in self-exile and penance for waging war against a people he hardly knew for the sake of a people he never really came home to. Jim Savorski is a lost soul, devoid of any true joy, and hoping to somehow make amends for all the sins he has committed. Does he find salvation in the end? That is a question Bob Svenson is still trying to answer in "The 45th Nail".
Find Michael Lahey & Ian Lahey’s novel, “The 45th Nail” at Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/45th-Nail-Lahey-Michael-ebook/dp/B018CRS2IE
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