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Reviewed by Patricia Reding for Readers' Favorite
Beneath the Stone, by Margaret M. Ford, opens with a scene from WWII, when the Nazis, now in their final days of power, seek to do their last damage and perhaps to hide a few treasures along the way. Three such men hold local villagers hostage in a small Italian town. They demand to know who stole something from them. Meanwhile, two men watch on. One, recognizing his son amongst the Nazis victims and hoping to lead the soldiers astray so as to save his son, interrupts. After feigning to question the boy, he tells the soldiers he knows where the item is. Getting one of the soldiers to identify himself as Rannulf Nagel, the man leads Rannulf and his compatriots away, believing the Allied Powers, not far behind, will arrive soon to help the villagers. Years later, that man’s grandson, David Montefort, travels with his mother and sister to England, following the death of David’s father, to move into the childhood home of his mother, Jaida Montefort. There, David meets his intriguing grandmother, the family matriarch, and learns the truth about his grandfather, the man who led the Nazis astray all those years ago. What were they looking for? Who took it? Where is it now? And where is he now?
Readers of Beneath the Stone will find a story they do not want to put down and, when they do, they will look forward to picking it up again. They will seek to discover the solution to the mystery Margaret M. Ford created. In timely fashion, they will learn who was the boy the Nazis questioned and they will search, along with David who grows into a young man as the story progresses, for the former SS officer and war criminal, Rannulf Nagel. The family dynamics are believable and the idiosyncrasies of its individual members (most particularly Alma, who is a bit simple-minded) are well drawn and realistic. Readers will turn the pages more quickly as time goes on, finding a growing desire to learn the fate of David’s grandfather and perhaps, in due course, to find justice served to a former Nazi.