Jack 1939

Written by Francine Mathews
Review by Viviane Crystal

To be Jack Kennedy, son of the notable Joseph P. Kennedy, is to meet expectations at every turn. At first Francine Mathews portrays this young Harvard student as a man with his own ideas, unafraid to independently think and act, but he also suffers from a debilitating disease with a harsh treatment. He’s a ladies’ man as well, but definitely not attracted to the women his mother, Rose Kennedy, would want him to marry. It’s also 1939, a time when war is about to break out across Europe and probably America, despite those who naïvely think otherwise.

Into this ambience of fear, which is covered over by reckless partying, enters Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He knows young Jack Kennedy is heading for Europe to do research for a thesis, and after quizzing him, gives him a mission: discover the source and plans of a plot to financially overthrow Roosevelt’s next election bid and provide Hitler with enough money to finance his worldwide campaign. Will the mission betray all Jack’s parents have taught him? Will it indeed wind up shaming his father and family forever? What sacrifices will he have to endure to ensure a successful completion of the almost impossible task before him?

Two of Hitler’s henchmen will vie to kill everyone, including Jack, associated with stopping the spread of Nazism. Jack will meet a lady with whom he truly falls in love but whose ideas and plans remain enigmatic and even problematic – at times. Is she trustworthy? For whom?

Jack 1939 is a tautly written espionage novel that sometimes seems contrived but which overall is thrilling, credible, and memorable. Very nicely done.