on 17 May 2013
Setting this story during the 1936 Olympic Games is pure genius. The spectacle - the haunting spectacle now - of those games is extremely powerful. The games and the setting are visually compelling, and Cantrell's handling of the event is equally so. As one of the most crucial and successful propaganda ploys in history, the story takes on a thematic resonance that is chilling.
Cantrell's prowess as a writer continues to grow, and I find the prose in this book evocative and beautiful. A Game of Lies is so well crafted it engages on very strong, visceral levels, and it is just a pleasure to read.
The book just sings, with a strong play-fair mystery plot, fast pacing, and thematic elements skillfully woven in. (I don't need to spell out the plot; you can find that in the product description and editorial reviews).
I love Hannah. She is one of the best heroines in literature. She's strong, she's tender, she's smart, and she's funny, very, very funny and quick. I want to read everything ever written about Hannah Vogel. Someday I expect to see one of those companion volumes about this series, one that includes her complete biography, maps of where she has lived, and more.
on 9 May 2013
Rebecca Cantrell has outdone herself (no small accomplishment) in this, her third, Hannah Vogel mystery. I love the setting of historical Berlin so strongly brought to life, and the breathless suspense of the story.
Hannah has re-entered Hitler's Germany to engage in a hazardous game: carrying Nazi secrets to the British. Bearing an assumed name, she attends the Berlin 1936 Olympic Games as a reporter. There in the stands, her long-time writing mentor dies in her arms; the first in a chain of deaths and dangers. As if being in Berlin, where she is wanted by the Nazis, is not peril enough, she can't know if her partner in espionage is her best friend or worst enemy. Regardless of the risk, she is determined to learn what her anti-Nazi mentor died for, and all she has to go on is cryptic writing in his notebook, and her tough, independent nature. Lethal developments come in small packages, and everyone holds a secret. A Game of Lies is a MUST READ!
Rebecca Cantrell's new novel, "A Game of Lies", is the third in her Hannah Vogel series. It's better than the second but not as good as her first one. (At least the trend is on the upswing!). Hannah Vogel was a reporter for "Berliner Tageblatt", the liberal German newspaper in the late 1920's - early 1930's, writing the crime column called "Peter Weill", which she had taken over from the previous "Peter Weill" (the "real" "Peter Weill"). After the Nazis came to power in 1933, she left the paper and eventually Germany. The two previous books in the series are about her brother's death, the adoption of a young boy who may - or may not - have been the son of Ernst Rohm, Hitler's chief of the SA who was killed by Hitler in the "Night of the Long Knives". All the background is real, but Hannah Vogel, the first-person narrator of the books is fictional, as is her adopted son.
In the third book, Hannah returns to Germany from her self-imposed exile in Switzerland to cover the Swiss Olympic team in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. She's also back to do a little spying, which she has done several times in the past few years, serving as a courier of information unfavorable to the Nazi government to contacts in England. Her son is back in Switzerland in the care of her former boyfriend and Hannah - who is traveling under an alias - is anxious to finish her reporting/spying and return to her son and the safety of Switzerland. However, is as the case in every mystery, Hannah comes across - literally - several murders and people of murky allegiances and problems and danger are her constant companions. (As there is already a fourth "Hannah Vogel" novel in the works, you can imagine things turn out okay in the end).
As a reader and reviewer, I was left with the thought that perhaps "Hannah Vogel" has run her course. The "perils of Pauline" theme of the book seems to have pretty much been exhausted by book three. And yet the book - and the characters - is interesting. If I were to give unsolicited advise to author Rebecca Cantrell, I'd advise her to write about the same period but concentrate on a different character for plot and back story. There were several minor characters in "Game" I found quite interesting and would like to know more about them. Take the focus off Hannah and put it on someone else. Of course, we all know what "unsolicited advise" is worth...
I can recommend "Game", particularly to those who have read the first two books in the series. I just wish Cantrell would widen her scope a little.