Excerpt from Broken Jewel by David L. Robbins, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Broken Jewel

A Novel

by David L. Robbins

Broken Jewel by David L. Robbins X
Broken Jewel by David L. Robbins
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Nov 2009, 432 pages
    Aug 2010, 528 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Sacha Dollacker

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

"Right about what?" Willets asked.

Mac told him his guess about Beethoven's Fifth.

Willets shook his head. "I like Clem's idea better."

Clem, a carrot-topped Scots merchant seaman, had missed getting out of Manila by two days before the city fell. He got drunk and was late for his ship. Last week, he went to see one of the internee doctors, who told him he had dysentery. Clem's room was next to Remy's. He'd taken to moaning at night.

The week before, that same doctor had killed a family's dog to add it to that day's stew rather than see food meant for the internees go to keeping a pet alive. A son from the family beat him up over it. The doctor swore he'd do the same again and did not understand such selfishness.

Willets said, "Clem figures it's Morse code."

Mac recast the musical notes: "Dot dot dot dash."

"That's V," Willets said, raising two fingers. "For victory."

Clem's right, Remy thought.

He stepped out the door, onto the topmost bamboo tread.

Last month, sixty-year-old Scheyer was punished for standing outside while American planes were overhead. Scheyer had been manager of the Wack Wack Golf Course. Before the air raid, he'd eaten some flowering bulbs that turned out to be indigestible. Twenty minutes later, with the planes coursing past, he walked a few paces from his married barracks to throw up in private. Sentries nabbed him and took him to the front gate. They forced him to stand in the sun on a narrow concrete block for ten hours. If Scheyer wobbled or stepped off, they struck his legs with cane rods. The guards watched from lawn chairs. Scheyer left the camp hospital a week later with the backs of his legs still raw from a lack of iron in his blood.

The fighter pilot's engine wailed in approach. Remy said to him, "Attaboy." He took another stride down the bamboo steps.

Twenty yards off, one of the guards kneeling beside the office spotted him. The guard waved madly for Remy to retreat. He shook a small fist.

The fighter barreled closer, a mile off now. At that speed the Yank would blow by the camp in seconds. Would there be another machine gun melody? Was the pilot intending to chew up more jungle, maybe some of the camp this time? The huddling guard had seen enough of Remy. He got to his feet, unshouldered his rifle. He was not going to allow an American prisoner to gloat.

Remy split apart two fingers on his right hand. All he had to do now was raise the arm.

Brown hands lapped over his shoulders. Remy was tugged backward up the steps. Inside the barracks, Mac released him. The guard raised an angry finger at Remy, then resumed his squat behind the office steps.

Mac whispered in Remy's ear. "What you thinkin'?"

Remy kept his voice low for only his friend to hear. "Whyn't you grab me sooner? Jesus Christ. I almost did that."

"I figure you a grown man. Had some sense."

Remy rattled his head at himself. A gambler did not get carried away, ever.

Everyone in the barracks riveted their attention on the fighter. This time, the pilot didn't line up on the ravine outside the camp but aimed his nose inside the wire, straight for the great dao tree. He cut his airspeed.

The plane came in low and slow. Again, none of the guards tried to potshot it, though this time they might have had a chance. When the plane closed to within a hundred yards of the camp, its canopy slid open. The pilot faced the twenty-four bamboo-and-grass barracks, the weedy yards and worn paths, the two thousand Allied prisoners, and jackknifed his hand into a salute.

Remy, Mac, and Topsy Willets ignored the consequences and returned the salute. Behind them, the barracks rustled. Remy pivoted. In the windows, all the men had their hands flattened across their brows.

From the opened cockpit, a small package tumbled to land in the trampled grass of what had been the camp garden. Coursing the length of the camp, the pilot held his salute until he slid shut his canopy and gunned the motor. He dipped the fighter's wings, climbed into the last purls of mist above the jungle, and disappeared south.

Excerpted from Broken Jewel by David L Robbins. Copyright © 2009 by David L Robbins. Excerpted by permission of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
    A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
    by Atia Abawi

    When you're a refugee, everyone has lost, at least for the time being... And the journey ...

  • Book Jacket: Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano
    Munich matron and self-described worldly sophisticate, Isolde Oberreiter, has decided to retire to a...
  • Book Jacket: Eat the Apple
    Eat the Apple
    by Matt Young
    Truth is stranger than fiction. Matt Young's memoir tackles the space in between truth and ...
  • Book Jacket: Educated
    by Tara Westover
    Tara Westover had the kind of upbringing most of us can only imagine. She was the youngest of seven ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Sometimes I Lie
    by Alice Feeney

    This brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something a lie if you believe it's the truth?
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano

    A charming, bighearted novel starring Auntie Poldi, Sicily's newest amateur sleuth.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Balcony

The Balcony
by Jane Delury

A century-spanning novel-in-stories of a French village brimming with compassion, natural beauty, and unmistakable humanity.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

I Y L D W D, Y'll G U W Fleas

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.