Suzanne Adair's Reviews > A Trace of Smoke

A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell
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Jul 12, 10


Few novels that I pick up hold my attention beyond the first several chapters. What a pleasure to read A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell. Ms. Cantrell sets her historical suspense/mystery in Berlin on the eve of Germany's descent into control by the Nazis. Journalist Hannah Vogel discovers that her brother, Ernst, has been murdered. Circumstances prevent her seeking the help of law enforcement officials. She becomes the sleuth to uncover the identity of her brother's killer, endangering her own life.

Cantrell's craft at creating atmosphere is amazing. I could smell the sauerkraut and fear. But what I found particularly memorable about this book was its three-dimensional treatment of Nazis and gays -- and gay Nazis :-). How easily Nazis have been depicted as faceless monsters in fiction and film. Far more difficult to show the human being beneath the brown shirt. Cantrell's Nazis won't sit easily with you. They'll challenge you to admit that anyone can get caught up in the glitter of an idea that promises a better life, then sucked into hell when the idea disintegrates. That's humanity.

I figured out early who offed Ernst. That didn't bother me. The main payoff was watching Hannah stick to her principles and navigate around the land mines of everyone's treachery and trashed dreams. Hannah Vogel v. the Nazis. A hero without a cape or karate. Hmm, maybe each of us has such courage buried inside.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Ashley (new)

Ashley S. Hi, I like your review on the book, it makes me want to read it, but the thing that grips my attention is the little boy, and how Hanah didn't know she gave birth to a child. Mostly it would be the father who wouldn't know. That quiet puzzled me in the over view of the book...


Suzanne Adair Hi Ashley. Thanks for posting your comment. Sounds like the overview you read was a bit confusing. I don't want to give anything away in the plot. Read the book, and it'll all get sorted out for you. :-)


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