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A Trace of Smoke (Paperback)
Rebecca Cantrell’s Hannah Vogel series begins in 1931 Germany with A Trace of Smoke (Forge), continues during 1933 in The Night of Long Knives, leading us to the current hardback, A Game of Lies which takes place during the Berlin Olympics of 1936 and Jesse Owens.
Rich in the history of the time, meticulously researched and darkly atmospheric, this series brings to life the ongoing and growing presence and power of the Nazis as they become more and more a political and privately intimidating force to be reckoned with. The oppressive caution, the blossoming violence, the sacrifices and the quiet acts of heroism are made very personal in this series.
What makes Rebecca Cantrell’s series stand out, though, is her obvious love of Germany, and how, through Hannah’s eyes and actions, we’re allowed to fall in love with an amazing land overrun with evil. With her, we are allowed to feel that we have some small part in standing up against the horror.
We always recommend that you read books in series order, and in this particular case, while you certainly can read them out of sequence, I believe you’ll lose some of the building tension. Cantrell has woven a masterful series. She told us there will be a total of nine: these three which are pre-War, three during the War and three post-War.— FRAN
Even though hardened crime reporter Hannah Vogel knows all too well how tough it is to survive in 1931 Berlin, she is devastated when she sees a photograph of her brother's body posted in the Hall of the Unnamed Dead. Ernst, a cross-dressing lounge singer at a seedy nightclub, had many secrets, a never-ending list of lovers, and plenty of opportunities to get into trouble.
Hannah delves into the city's dark underbelly to flush out his murderer, but the late night arrival of a five-year-old orphan on her doorstep complicates matters. The endearing Anton claims that Hannah is his mother and that her dead brother Ernst is his father.
As her investigations into Ernst's murder and Anton's parentage uncover political intrigue and sex scandals in the top ranks of the rising Nazi party, Hannah fears not only for her own life, but for that of a small boy who has come to call her "mother."
About the Author
Rebecca Cantrell majored in German, Creative Writing, and History at the Freie Universitaet of Berlin and Carnegie Mellon University. She currently lives in Hawaii with her husband and son. A Trace of Smoke is her first novel.