Marlyn's Reviews > A Trace of Smoke

A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell
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's review
Feb 08, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: mystery
Read in February, 2010

Hannah Vogel is a single 32-year-old woman in a Germany where Nazi-ism is becoming rampant. A crime reporter for the Berliner Tageblatt, she considers herself fairly tough and unshakeable. But when, on a regular visit to the police station she sees a photo of her younger brother Ernst in the photos of the unnamed dead, the unidentified bodies discovered over the past week, she is (understandably) upset.

Hannah's friend Fritz Waldheim is the policeman on duty, though, so she tries not to show it. She doesn't want anyone to find out that she and Ernst loaned their identity papers to a Jewish friend so she and her son could leave the country. Once Sarah and Tobias arrive in America, the papers will be returned, but until then, Hannah and Ernst must be virtually invisible.

Hannah succeeds in distracting Fritz before he sees the photograph of Ernst, but she determines that she will discover what happened to her brother and try to avenge his death. She still has to do her job as a crime reporter, but because of it, she knows some investigative tricks.

Ernst was a performer in a gay bar, and had some very important benefactors. Hannah knows little about his life besides where he lived and worked, and that's where she begins.

Meanwhile, a 5-year-old boy appears on her doorstep, claiming to be Ernst's son, and Hannah has another puzzle to solve.

I'm not usually a fan of historical fiction, but I was totally taken with this story. This is one of the books which had me torn between gobbling it up and slowly savoring. I guess I managed a happy medium, but it was a gripping read.

Another Hannah Vogel story, A Night of Long Knives, is due out in June, but that seems a very long time to wait.
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