Bemoaning the lack of a Dennis Lehane novel this year? Conveniently, historical thriller writer Thomas Mullen has shifted from Atlanta to Lehane's beloved Boston for his latest, "The Rumor Game." And, like Lehane, he's interested in Irish gangsters, family angst and love stories that probably won't work out.

Mullen should be every bit as big as Lehane. Beginning with his powerhouse debut about an isolated town that collapses on itself as it tries to hold off the 1918 influenza epidemic, "The Last Town on Earth" (2006), he has written one terrific historical novel after another. Mullen's "Darktown" trilogy dramatized efforts to integrate the Atlanta police force after World War II but "Rumor Game" is right in the middle of the war, in 1943.

Reporter Anna Lemire, who is Jewish, writes a column that debunks myths about the war effort, a column that has become increasingly focused on countering antisemitic rumors spread by those who think the U.S. should not have entered the war.

FBI agent Devon Mulvey, who is Irish, is investigating what amounts to antiwar terrorism, which seems to originate with Irish gangs and which is designed to spread suspicion about the reasons for the war. Inevitably, the investigations of Anna and Devon will cross. Possibly, so will their limbs.

Anna and Devon are memorable characters, recognizable as '40s movie archetypes. Anna is the smart, plucky (and attractive) go-getter whose bosses don't understand how good she is (Jean Arthur in "A Foreign Affair" mode, maybe?). Devon is a brash, charming (and attractive) rake whose preconceptions occasionally get in the way of his detective work (Joel McCrea, in his "Foreign Correspondent" vein).

The way Mullen constructs "Rumor," alternating between the two protagonists' individual investigations, smartly invites us into the story. Even after Anna and Devon meet, we know things each has not told the other, so it feels like we're in a better position than either of them to figure out who's behind a murder, the theft of some weapons and the disappearance of Anna's best friend, who may know too much.

"Rumor Game" also is a fascinating look at a time when World War II had not yet become "the good war," when many isolationists (and bigots) still regarded it as a mistake. Mullen's lean prose captures a variety of attitudes about both the war in Europe and at home — including Devon's dad, who may be financing antiwar propaganda. Its characters included those who have already experienced loss overseas and others who fear it is just around the corner.

Fans of Lehane and of spy novelist Joseph Kanon ("The Good German") will enjoy how Mullen explores the complexities of the home front while focusing on two flawed characters who are trying to figure out how to do the right thing.

The Rumor Game

By: Thomas Mullen.

Publisher: Minotaur, 356 pages, $28.