The Red Scarf by Babette Hughes

four stars

Set in 1936, Babette Hughes’s The Red Scarf tells the story of Kate Gold, the young widow of Ben Gold, a vicious bootlegger known as the “Jewish Godfather.” After her husband’s murder, Kate meets and falls in love with FBI agent Adam Fairfield. Their relationship is interrupted by the murder of Adam’s friend and fellow agent Gary Gettlemen by the Levines, a Jewish mob family. Gary had been undercover for two years in an attempt to bring the Levines to justice but was instead murdered after his true identity was discovered. Kate volunteers to use her credentials as Ben Gold’s widow to infiltrate the Levines and bring them to justice for Gary’s murder. Kate risks her relationship with Adam to put the Levines behind bars and to help Sol Levine’s wife, Miriam, escape her abusive husband and his equally dangerous mother, Edna.

Readers will be swept along by the fast-paced and surprising story, as Hughes has created interesting and engaging characters. Kate, of course, is a delightful character, and the reader will root for her through the whole story and enjoy watching her character grow and develop as the narrative continues on. Hughes’s secondary characters are equally interesting, and readers will enjoy interactions with Sam Bernstein, a former employee of Kate’s dead husband, whom Kate hires as her bodyguard and driver. Although some of the story’s plot twists will require an exceptionally large suspension of disbelief, The Red Scarf is an entertaining and interesting story, made all the more enjoyable by Hughes’s often poetic writing style, which brings this fascinating historical era to life.

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