Top positive review
2 people found this helpful
Sex scandals amongst the Nazi elite in 1931 Berlin
on 17 January 2014
In the first of her Hannah Vogel series, Cantrell introduces her tough yet sentimental, morally-impeccable heroine. A German crime journalist, Hannah is single, independent, and prone to trouble-making. Here she gets embroiled in tracing the killer of her cross-dressing brother - and finds herself caught up in Nazi sex scandals.
I like this series, but this doesn't quite tip over into a 5-star book. Cantrell is excellent at creating the atmosphere of decadent and desperate 1930s Berlin, and the seedy nightclubs which flourished. Where this book falls down a little is in the saint-like Hannah: even though it's only 1931 and Hitler hasn't even been made Chancellor yet, Hannah already hates the Nazis (even though many of her friends don't, and see nothing wrong with dating one) with the kind of hindsight that we have. She's also loved by all her friends and acquaintances, even the occasional imprisoned forgery expert (handy for the plot), and the local newspaperman. She is happy to starve herself so that a child she's just met can have sweet treats to eat, and is constantly talking about how she's ready to sacrifice herself for... what, exactly?
So the characterisation of our heroine is a tad unsubtle, and configured to press too many obvious emotional buttons. Despite that, though, this is a series which deals with big issues in a generally intelligent and well-imagined way. Hannah is a little one-dimensional in moral terms in this book, a female version of that shining knight of chivalric romance, but given the darkening of Berlin at this time, Cantrell's need for an overly moral heroine can be forgiven.