Rebecca Cantrell's A Trace of Smoke takes the reader deep into the noir world of Berlin in 1931. A world in upheaval with the rise of the Nazi party just before Hitler comes to power. The power of this debut mystery is enthralling, spurred by the in depth research of the author.
The minute details makes the novel come alive in the reader's mind because the word pictures she paints are both stark and vivid. Rebecca recreates a world that becomes a major character. A Trace of Smoke could not exist, except for the setting.
Hannah Vogel is a crime reporter for Berliner Tageblatt under the pen name of Peter Weill. On her way to the Criminal Investigations Department she discovers her gay brother's picture on the wall of the Hall of the Unnamed Dead. He had been stabbed and his body was dumped in the river, where it was discovered by a passing tourist boat. Hannah is shocked and frightened, but she vows to unearth his killer.
Hannah inherits a five year old boy who calls her Mother. Anton carries a birth certificate which names her as his mother and the brother as the father. Who is "Little Eagle?" Did her beloved bother father this child at the age of fourteen?
Follow Hannah as she searches for the truth through the dangerous streets of Berlin, the El Dorado (gay bar) where her brother was a performer, Tegel Prison, and the abandoned homes of her friends who've fled the coming Holocaust. This is one you will not put down until the last page.
Hannah's story will continue in 2010 with A Night of the Long Knives. Visit Rebecca Cantrell at http://rebeccacantrell.com/.
PS, this copy is from the Russell County, KY public library. Thanks you all, you have good taste.
Nash Black, author of Indie finalists Writing as a Small Business and Haints.