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City of Shadows

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  2,313 ratings  ·  345 reviews

A cultured city scarred by war. . . . An eastern émigré with scars and secrets of her own. . . . A young woman claiming to be a Russian grand duchess. . . . A brazen killer, as vicious as he is clever. . . . A detective driven by decency and the desire for justice.

. . . A nightmare political movement steadily gaining power. . . .

This is 1922 Berlin.

One of the troubled c

Paperback, 432 pages
Published February 6th 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 2006)
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Oh, it's so sad when a book starts out as a five-star book only to gradually creep down to a two. For a while there, Ariana really had me. I was into the plot, I was into the characters, I was even into the setting and the time period. But then, somehow, it suddenly felt way too long, way too draggy, plus there was this abrupt shift where the book suddenly jumped ahead nine years but somehow we were back where we left off, only we weren't.

Esther, our snappy protagonist, is a young Russian Jewish
I love Ariana Franklin! I've been reading her historical thrillers--Mistress of the Art of Death--(and I see there's a new one out...) but this book is set in Germany between the two World Wars. It is mysterious, romantic, thought-provoking and full of amazing female characters, both good and 'bad'. I find especially that Franklin has a deep respect and empathy for her characters. She can create a character that is deeply flawed, yet she sets those flaws in the light of human tragedies that we a ...more
This novel held my attention with three very interesting subplots: the life and travails of a Russian Jewish refugee who escaped the pogroms of the early 1900s, a misanthropic woman who claimed to be the long lost Anastasia Nikolaevna, and the struggles of an honest German detective against the increasingly political police force fashioned by Hitler's socialist party. They all revolve around a series of murders which threaten to destroy all of them as Germany hurdles toward its Holocaust and the ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ariana Franklin has once again developed a strong female character, Esther, and placed her in a backdrop of a deteriorating Germany during the early part of the 20th Century. Incorporating German history, the bustle of the city of Berlin, the Anatasia mystery, and a Nazi serial killer into one concise story, Franklin pulls off creating a story that keeps the reader involved from the first page to the last. Two other characters, a determined police detective and a woman who has lost her past, int ...more
Four stars because it was a little long for my taste. Otherwise a first class compilation. Set in pre WWII Berlin the author exposes the methodical rise to power of Adolf Hitler. I came to see how the struggles of the German people against out of control inflation, created the desperation which made them turn to anyone who promised to lift them out of the poverty and hunger that prevailed. Murder, conspiracy, romance, anti-semitism, integrity and redemption are all here. Quite a line up. S Heart ...more
Make that 4.5 stars! Nazis, Anastasia, transvestites, this fascinating book set during Hitler's rise to power in Germany has it all. Ms. Franklin is a wonderful writer and when the end surprised me I realized that she had artfully dropped clues.
can I give it 6 stars? Pre-WWII Berlin, mystery, history, kick-ass surprise (no spoiling here)

It was a Bong book. . .
Hilari Bell
I read this book because I love the Mistress of the Art of Death series so much—and even though City of Shadows, set in 1920s and 1930s Berlin, has no connection to Franklin’s other books it’s excellent too. Regardless of the period, Franklin writes great, appealing characters with depth and humor. The mystery plot, which centers around Anna Anderson, who passed herself off as Anastasia, is a fine one—but this book also reminded me that the best books usually do more than one thing. The backdrop ...more
Atmospheric, creepy, and clever, Ariana Franklin dips her practiced pen into the well-mined Romanov conspiracy pool and comes up with a dark and riveting take on the Anna Anderson fraud, set in 1920s and 1930s Berlin before and during the Nazis’ clambering to power.

Franklin frames her tale through the eyes of Esther Solomonova, a scarred Jewish survivor of a Russian pogrom now eking out a living serving as a girl-of-all-trades for Prince Nick, the charming conman owner of several risqué cabarets
Another great book by this author! It was interesting right from the start and I enjoyed the entire book. A mystery thriller, but also historical fiction. I learned quite a bit from this book, as I had to google a bunch of things to refresh my memory of the actual events. Set in Berlin in post WW1...when Hitler is just beginning to gain popularity. Another look at what happened to the German citizens and leading up to the inevitable horror of the Halocaust. Strong characters and a great storylin ...more
Rosina Lippi
When I first picked this novel up, I noted that this was only the author's second novel, something that struck me as almost improbable: it reads as though she's been writing for years. And in fact she has. Ariana Franklin is the pen name of Diana Norman -- whose work I adore.

I really have to admire this novel, for its interesting, frustrating, engaging, horrific and wonderful characters and for the complex series of plots and subplots woven together like challah.

Franklin begins with the well kno
I can't write too much right now (plus the book was a while ago...But LOVED it). Ariana Franklin/Diana Norman (she writes under two names - no idea why) helms this historical fiction about 1930s Germany, a dreary, appallingly soul-crushing time for the German national psyche, sizzling with the embers of unrest that allowed Hitlerian philosophy to ignite it into flames. "No!" you want to yell out to the good, poor, struggling, weary, battered, German men and women you are reading about. "NO!" the ...more
Before the event of DNA testing there was a woman who everyone had heard of. Whether you believed in her or not, people found her fascinating, this woman claimed to Anastasia the last living heir to the Russian throne, the daughter of the murdered Czar Nicholas II
In this fictional story is a young Jewess, a refugee in 1922 Berlin, this is Germany before Hitler. Because of the scar on her face Esther survives by being a secretary to Prince Nick as he is called who owns several cabarets in the ci
Diana Sandberg
Good, not great. I liked the second half better than the first, which dragged a bit. I had some trouble with Franklin's choice of voices. This is always difficult when attempting to indicate class/education with language when the language spoken is not the one being read. Slangy English does not really convey slangy, lower class German, at least not without a conscious adjustment on the part of the reader. I did like Inspector Schmidt and I did like the nice little twist at the end, although I h ...more
If I ever write a novel, this is how I would want it to turn out. It's a great mystery with twists and turns, but even better, it weaves in some serious world history in an insightful but not heavy-handed way - the Russian Revolution, the fall of the Romanovs, the Anastasia mystery, World War I, the Weimar Republic, and the rise of Hitler. It's incredibly atmospheric with fascinating, multi-dimensional characters whose lives are anything but predictable. I can't recommend this book enough!
One of the best historical mysteries I've read. I was bowled over at the end! Love this author's other books in the Mistress of Death series too!
City of Shadows could have been three different books as there are three different threads running through this single story.
First, and most impressive, is the historical prospective of the Wiemar Republic prior to the election of Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany. It is no wonder Hitler became such a popular figure with his promises of prosperity and creature comforts for Germans. There are also whispers of what is to come during the Hitler reign, but they are subtle.
The second thread is
Fantastic for anyone who likes history. The mystery line is great for those who like thrillers.
This almost had five stars if it were not for the slightly too obvious cliche in the last few pages. But it is a wonderful book - not what I was expecting at all and very cleverly done. It is set in Germany in the days when Hitler was rising to power but all the political stuff is really background to the story of a murder mystery. The book manages to convey the history and menace of the political scene and also the background which really led to Hitlers party getting power - all of which was re ...more
You can't beat an Ariana Franklin book. I love her Mistress of the Art of Death series and just recently acquired City of Shadows . It did not disappoint. Her writing is flawless and draws you in from the beginning and leaves you wanting more. I only just found out she passed away. So sad to hear that.
Mar 05, 2009 Sara rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery readers
When times are tough and jobs are hard to come by, Ester feels lucky to have a job as a secretary/jack-of-all-trades for an unscrupulous deviant known as Prince Nick. In Berlin, in 1922, Ester is reminded daily of how fortunate she is to have money and a place to live. Being reliant on Nick for food and shelter, Ester is forced to go along with his next scheme which is to take a young psychiatric patient and pass her off as Anastasia—the last surviving Russian heir. The found princess has a lost ...more
The setting is in the early 1920's in Berlin during the rise of Hitler. Esther Solomonova is a Jewish refugee from Russia who has scars on her face and works as a secretary for "Prince" Nick who runs cabarets. Nick is convinced he can make money by advancing Anna Anderson, another refugee in an asylum as Anastasia. Nick rents an apartment and sets up Anna with Natalya (a Rusian stripper) and Esther as her trainers and caretakers. Anna is being stalked by a large man, and soon people who know her ...more
Will Byrnes
This is a wonderful gripping read. Set in the hyperinflationary, chaotic Berlin of the 1920s, and filled with characters that would be at home in any Eric Ambler, Franklin paints a picture of Berlin in the worst throes of economic collapse. Nick is a night club owner, favorite of those in power, those who fill their various needs at his various clubs. But ever on the look out for new sources of income, he hears of a mysterious woman locked away in an asylum. Could she be the true Anastasia? Whet ...more
Picture 1920’s Berlin. Hitler is just a whisper on the wind at this point but in Russia and in Germany there is a strong threat of anti-Semitism. The Bolsheviks have annihilated the royal family. Supposedly, no one survived. In Berlin, Esther, a Jewess, has come to live escaping the terrorism of Jews taking place in Russia. She comes from a wealthy family and can speak many foreign languages but in Berlin she has nothing. Prince Nick hires Esther to be his assistant. Nick is a con-man who makes ...more
Set in Berlin during the early 1920's, the book opens with a curious scene of a young man crossing a bridge and observing a man pushing a woman into the river. Due to his situation of returning from a questionable activity, the young man decides not to report what he saw. This sets off a chain of events that drive the novel. The story then begins to focus on Esther, a Jewish refugee from Russia, who survived the pogroms, but with a scar to her face. She works as a secretary to a cabaret owner, " ...more
One of the first books I read when I joined Goodreads was Mistress of the Art of Death by Franklin. I've had this book for ages, and I finally took it off the shelf for some clear-the-shelves reading. I feel bad that it's taken 3 years to read her work again.

I think I may have just liked the location/time of Mistress vs. this book. There's quite of bit of police procedure here that was yawn, yawn and I found it hard to keep track of all the characters (especially after 9 years between part I an
Well, I really had no idea what to expect when I started this book. I don't know if I ever really enjoyed reading it. I just kind of read it. The second half of the book was more fast paced, but it was so different than the first part (in terms of the story also). It all just seemed disconnected. And then the ending?? I don't know, I don't really care for how the woman (anna anderson) who claimed to be Anastasia was a character, when we all know she wasn't the real Anastasia. It just seemed kind ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I'm not really sure I'm best qualified to say what I think of this book as I read it in 2 goes - separated by a book I was DESPERATE to read! I liked it well enough and am glad I persevered with it as I enjoyed the second half way more than the first - there were characters in part one that I just didn't like (although I don't think the reader was meant to really like some of them!) and part two was more "thriller-y" and my cup of tea. I also found it difficult to reconcile what I (think I) know ...more
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Ariana Franklin was the pen name of British writer Diana Norman. A former journalist, Norman had written several critically acclaimed biographies and historical novels. She lived in Hertfordshire, England, with her husband, the film critic Barry Norman.

The Death Maze (UK) is published as The Serpent's Tale in the US.
Relics of the Dead (UK) is published as Grave Goods in the US.
The Assassin'
More about Ariana Franklin...
Mistress of the Art of Death (Mistress of the Art of Death, #1) The Serpent's Tale (Mistress of the Art of Death, #2) Grave Goods (Mistress of the Art of Death, #3) A Murderous Procession (Mistress of the Art of Death, #4) Winter Siege

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