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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 29 July 2010
A few months ago I read A Trace of Smoke, the first novel, and was very impressed with the plot and the characterisation. It is good to find someone who knows so much about the historical background and the city that they write about.

This book is a continuation of the story and set 3 years after the first. Hannah and Anton are on a trip in the Graf Zeppelin from South America, to where they fled after the first book. However the zeppelin is diverted from Switzerland to Fredrickshafen.

Here Antin is kidnapped and Hannah sets out to recover him. In the process she witnesses the arrest of Ernst Rohm, the boy's "father", by Hitler and the SS. She follows the trail to Berlin and encounters Nazis, Rohm's mother, spies and members of the underworld.

We also find that German life changed in a very short space of time following the Nazi's ascent to power. Even German families are at risk from the actions of children and servants and police offers either join the Party or lose their jobs. Many non-Nazis had to join the party to avoid losing their jobs.

It also shows the extent that, even at this early stage, the Nazis were willing to change laws in order to retrosepctively legalise the murder of their own party members and other citizens. We also see that the Night of the Long Knives was a well prepared action against the SA and their other political opponents.

This is a well wrtten, plotted and characterised story that concludes with a new plot for a subsequent novel. I would recommend reading A Trace of Smoke so that you do not miss some of the plot lines.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
followup to her first novel. Rebecca Cantrell returns to mid-30's Berlin in her second novel, "A Night of Long Knives". She revives her character, journalist Hannah Vogel, from her first, introductory novel, "A Trace of Smoke", while adding a gentleman-friend for Hannah, who lives in Berlin, while she has fled to South America with her "adopted" son, Anton. Anton, the son of a prostitute, has rather murky father-issues. His father might be Ernst Rohm, the gay commander of Hitler's Brown Shirts, or he may be the son of Hannah's brother Ernst, who was also a lover of Ernst Rohm. Cantrell's first book was set in Berlin in 1931, as Hitler is coming to power, and the second has the backdrop of his "Night of Long Knives", where he gathers and murders Rohm and many of the Brown Shirts.

I can't quite decide why Cantrell's second book isn't quite as good as her first. There's a lot of action during the week that Hannah and Anton are kidnapped when their zeppelin makes an unexpected stop in Germany on the way to Switzerland from South America. People are killed, secrets betrayed, lovers loved, a mother's devotion to her son displayed, and Hannah is involved in all of it. It's almost TOO convoluted to seem with in the realm of reality. Now, I recognise that fiction IS unreality of a sort, but it's almost too much in Cantrell's book.

Saying all that, I did enjoy her book. I love seeing old characters in new stories and Cantrell is a good writer. If you read and enjoyed "A Trace of Smoke", you'll like this one. I am looking forward to a continuation in her Hannah Vogel series.
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on 17 May 2013
I always eagerly anticipate any book by Rebecca Cantrell. Cantrell creates an atmospheric world where Hannah Vogel must battle powerful adversaries to rescue her young foster son. Crime writer Vogel, in her newly acquired persona as a travel writer, journeys to Switzerland aboard a zeppelin. It is unexpectedly diverted to Germany by the dangerous and high-ranking Nazi, Ernst Roehm. He wants his son, Anton, back, and Hannah has him.

Cantrell's Nazi Germany comes to life in such vivid detail that we squirm. Each setting evokes the danger in which Vogel finds herself. Every moment fills us with dread for Hannah and her son. While the plot leads us inexorably to its terrible conclusion, Cantrell's real gift is her sophisticated mastery of this genre. She knows how to take a mystery novel to the next level. Just as in Even Smoke Leaves a Trace, this story examines deeper, darker and far more meaningful mysteries. Underlying Hannah's desperate search for the boy she loves, Cantrell explores the essence of the relationship between mothers and their sons. Our hearts ache when Vogel interviews the mothers of murdered or imprisoned young men in the aftermath of the Night of Long Knives.

In short: the plotting is top-notch, the pacing is swift, and the setting evokes the darkness that lies in the human heart. Hannah and Anton give us hope that with integrity and perseverance we can overcome evil.
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on 9 May 2013
After reading TRACE OF SMOKE, Rebecca Cantrell's first novel in her Hannah Vogel series, I was completely hooked. Her depiction of 1930's Germany through the eyes and actions of crime reporter Hannah is suspenseful and emotionally compelling. A NIGHT OF LONG KNIVES ratchets the stakes even higher.

Germany is the last place Hannah wants to be after 3 years on the run, but it is no coincidence that the zeppelin taking her and her foster son, Anton, to Zurich, Switzerland veers off course and lands just over the border in Germany. She is wanted by powerful storm trouper, Ernst Röhm, who fathered Anton to quash rumors of his homosexuality. To Röhm, her rescue of the boy is kidnapping. She is could lose the boy and her life.

In the chaos of Hitler mercilessly slaughtering his political opponents and former friends to gain control of the Nazi party, Hannah escapes but Anton does not. She fights to get out the story of a thousand grieving mothers, while tracing the fading trail of her own son.

THE NIGHT OF LONG KNIVES is a terrifying tale that twists and turns to a surprising conclusion. But in her all-too-real-depiction of dark hearts in a dark time, Cantrell always shines a beacon of hope, showing us what just one courageous and determined person can do to fight evil.
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A Night of Long Knives is the second book in the Hannah Vogel series set in Nazi-era Germany. The book has a nice hook with its direct link into the infamous night of murder inside the Nazi party in 1934 and the hunt for a young boy who is supposedly the son of Ernst Rohm. There are some nice historical references, Cantrell recreates the stifling atmosphere of fear and suspicion of the place and era, and the story rattles along with plenty of intrigue and tension. That said, the story suffers from three main issues, two of which are partially issues of taste. The first person voice didn’t sufficiently resonate with me and my sense was the story would have been better told in the third person. Second, the story is infused with too much melodrama and has at times sappy tones that seem out of tune with the otherwise darker score. Third, although there is some tension and running around the story is far too linear and straightforward with the hunt for Anton being remarkably easy, with pieces and friendly allies very handily falling into place when and where needed. Overall then, an interesting read that in my view is a little hamstrung by its telling.
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on 10 February 2011
The setting for this story (the early days of the Third Reich) is fascinating and the author details it well, but the actual story and the repitition of plot devices stretches the reader's belief a little too much. Hannah Vogel is an interesting character but the author almost drowns her (and much of the story) in sentimental nonsense about Vogel's developing mothering instincts.
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