Author Rebecca Cantrell
Even though hardened crime reporter Hannah Vogel knows all too well how tough it is to survive in 1931 Berlin, she is devastated when she sees a photograph of her brother’s body posted in the Hall of the Unnamed Dead. Ernst, a cross-dressing lounge singer at a seedy nightclub, had many secrets, a never-ending list of lovers, and plenty of opportunities to get into trouble. Hannah delves into the city’s’ dark underbelly to flush out his murderer, but the late night arrival of a five-year-old orphan on her doorstep complicates matters. The endearing Anton claims that Hannah is his mother and that her dead brother Ernst is his father. As her investigations into Ernst’s murder and Anton’s parentage uncover political intrigue and sex scandals in the top ranks of the rising Nazi party, Hannah fears not only for her own life, but for that of a small boy who has come to call her “mother.”
GEMS: This story manages to fit neatly into four genre categories and does it amazingly well! While reading, my imagination portrayed the story in black and white form with dashes of color, mostly red, which is significant to the gay character. This is not due to a lack of development, but rather should be taken as a compliment to the author’s talent to imprint emotions into the scene without directly stating or over dramatizing. I felt a connection to each character and grew to care about them all, even the ‘bad’ guys because their humanity coupled with history sparked a touch of sympathy. The lead character is an inspirational female, not for her overtly heroic antics, but for her ability to cope and face challenging situations. Thematically, the story builds on many levels, and for me the most convincing is the sense of bravery. Every character at some point and to some degree shows bravery and compassion, which makes this a moving and deeply human historical tale worth exploring.
FLAWS: I don’t want to give anything away, but the ending was a bit too easy of an escape especially given the power of the foe the lead character faces. However, I am eager to read A Night of Long Knives (sequel,#2) to see where it picks up. Perhaps my questions or reservations will be answered. Please take into consideration I’m really picking to find one small flaw. I almost hate to mention it because the book was craftily constructed and I do not wish to tarnish this jewel!