Michelle's Reviews > A Trace of Smoke

A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell
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's review
Aug 27, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012, historical, thriller, women-s-fiction
Read from August 26 to 27, 2012

Normally I don’t care for books that are part of series, partly because it’s a rare series that hooks me enough to encourage further reading (I can only think of two: Hunger Games and Gallagher Girls) and I don’t enjoy books that can’t stand on their own. Trace of Smoke is a rare exception. I’m not sure if it was originally envisioned as a series or merely panned out that way. Although the end lends to follow-on potential it is a complete book in its own right and though I’d be interested to read the additional books I don’t feel shortchanged if I don’t.

This takes place in 1931 Berlin as the Nazis are coming into power. Hannah Vogel is a newspaper reporter (writing under a pseudonym) with a (very close) gay, cross-dressing brother who has died under mysterious circumstances and she must find out why. The writing is crisp and sharp and the setting well drawn. I could so perfectly envision most every scene. The author gives a real feel for the city and her research seems impeccable. There is a definite noir vibe to it, which is quite different from most novels taking place in this time period.

Hannah is an easy character to root for. She’s hard when she needs to be, soft other times, and though she sometimes makes bad decisions they are understandable and true to her character. I did wonder at times if her “ugh, Nazis are repulsive and where might they take all the Jews?” viewpoint was a little too prescient. I’m no historian so perhaps there were people who saw what was coming so clearly. In this book it wasn’t that Hannah had a general bad feeling or merely found the Nazis brutal, which would’ve made sense, but it went a step further and at times it seemed as though she knew exactly what was going to happen. Maybe that’s realistic. Maybe it was extremely obvious to some. Either way it felt a little too hindsight at times and pulled me from the story.

That said this was a great, fast read with a strong heroine. The fact I do want to read the future books in the series (which happens like once every five years) tells me I really connected with Hannah and her story.
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