The Verona Exchange

A Rainee Allen mystery

Fiction - Mystery - General
240 Pages
Reviewed on 12/12/2019
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Verona Exchange is a work of intriguing mystery fiction penned by author duo Lauren B Grossman and Bernard Jaroslow. Part of the standalone novel series of Rainee Allen Mysteries, this novel is written for adults due to its explicit language, violence, and sexual content. As author Rainee Allen tries to settle back into her usual life, her estranged son Joshua offers her a unique opportunity to meet up with him in Italy. But when Joshua is kidnapped, Rainee once again finds herself thrown into the center of a very dramatic international mystery, one in which the plot thickens with every twist and turn.

Author duo Lauren B Grossman and Bernard Jaroslow really know how to craft a mystery plot that is timed to perfection. There is plenty of detailed exposition throughout the tale, but the information is delivered cleverly through circumstance and dialogue, rather than being drawn from Rainee’s own mind. Her character development is also a strong draw for the readership: as a capable and intelligent 'everywoman' who shows her strength and smarts when it really matters most. I loved her very human and realistic presentation throughout, which didn’t stop the action from being high stakes and the missing person mystery from sounding genuine either. Having traveled through this region of Italy, I appreciated the international flavor and authentic atmosphere that filled out the background really nicely. Overall, The Verona Exchange is a highly recommended mystery novel for fans of strong but believable female leads, realistic action, and high stakes intrigue.

Sarah Stuart

“The Red Brigade had successfully kidnapped United States Brigadier General James L. Dozier” – and that is just the drama in the prologue! Rainee makes her appearance in London, where she, her husband, and her daughter, “Little Jana”, are preparing for Christmas with Rainee’s mother-in-law. Peace is shattered by a telephone call from Joshua Greenberg, the son Rainee gave up twenty-three years before. Joshua plans to fly to Europe, and he wants to meet her in Rome. Much of the background to the story is shown in flashback, including the horror of a Jew who regains his memory – too late. Fast-forward to Rainee in Rome. Lauren B Grossman and Bernhard Jaroslow reveal why Joshua doesn’t arrive at the hotel where they agreed to meet, but Rainee waits – and waits.

The Verona Exchange: A Rainee Allen mystery is full of vividly described action and tension. Intense suspense created by knowledge the reader has that is hidden from Rainee is the secret of success in The Verona Exchange by Lauren B Grossman and Bernhard Jaroslow. Rainee feared meeting her adult son, Joshua, but when he vanishes, she is determined to find him, if necessary, at the risk of her life – and between The Red Brigade, Interpol, and Rome’s city police force, it is a very real danger. The Verona Exchange will intrigue psychological and action-packed thriller fans across the world with its explosive twists and turns and gain more readers eager for Lauren B Grossman and Bernhard Jaroslow’s Rainee Allen mystery stories.

Darryl Greer

The Verona Exchange by co-authors Bernard Jaroslow and Lauren B. Grossman is the second book in the Rainee Allen mystery series. In this story we find the lead character, American Rainee Allen happily married and living in London. As a teenager, Rainee became pregnant after a liaison with a close friend, Ricky, and she gave birth to a son, Joshua. Her circumstances were such that she felt she could not give Joshua the upbringing he deserved. She lost touch with him and Ricky, who raised Joshua and later met and married Deborah. Ricky is very wealthy, a fact that becomes relevant as the story unfolds. When Joshua and his friend Zack decide to travel to a conference in Italy, together with their mentor, Professor Esposito, Rainee receives a surprise phone call from Joshua, asking to meet her there. She is beyond excited, and both are nervous, not knowing what the other’s reaction will be when, finally, they meet. Rainee’s excitement, however, is short-lived when Joshua is kidnapped. Rainee is about to find herself embroiled in a desperate search of various cities and locales in Italy with the aid of the Italian police and agents from Interpol. But those who have Joshua are no petty crooks, they’re dangerous terrorists and the race is on to retrieve Joshua alive.

The story itself is intriguing, well-written, and is a genuine page-turner. Characterisation is important in all novels but here especially, given the surprises at the end it is important to know who’s who. A considerable amount of research was clearly necessary to make a kidnap by the now-defunct Red Brigades sound feasible and author Bernard Jaroslow takes credit for this in an interview that follows the story. It was also necessary to know a little about Italian police and Interpol procedures and I found this element of the story credible. All in all, The Verona Exchange is a delightful thriller in an unusual and unique setting.