Saturday, June 04, 2011

Review: A TRACE OF SMOKE, Rebecca Cantrell

A Trace of Smoke (Hannah Vogel, #1)A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In 1931 Berlin, crime reporter Hannah Vogel discovers her brother's photograph in the police station's Hall of the Unnamed Dead. Her brother, a homosexual, cross-dressing lounge singer, had a number of shady connections and numerous liasons with powerful and dangerous men, and when Hannah sets off to find his killer, she runs afoul of one of the scariest real-life figures of the days before Hitler's rise to power.

This is a great historical mystery. I especially liked the contrasts between the supposedly public morality of late Weimar Germany and the decadence of the underworld in which its movers and shakers played, often openly. The plot moves along well, with unexpected twists and turns and a nail-biting ending. Hannah is an engaging character, tough when she has to be, yet soft-hearted. The bad guys are truly three-dimensional and well-drawn, and even more frightening because at least one of them actually existed (try to imagine a guy that actually worried Hitler).

A fine debut. Can't wait to read the next one.

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