Flight from Berlin : a novel

From Eileen Effrat

Author: David John

Title:   Flight from Berlin : a novel

Set during the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, this suspense thriller pits the Gestapo and the British Secret Intelligence Service against one another in the quest for a secret dossier that could destroy the Nazi leadership. A British journalist, outspoken in his criticism of Hitler, and a former Olympian join forces in this atmospheric and fast paced thriller. If you are a fan of Alan Furst, Daniel Silva, Philip Kerr, or David Downing, give this a try. You won’t be disappointed.

 

Games of Lies

From Eileen Effrat

Author: Rebecca Cantrell

Title: Games of Lies

I have read and thoroughly enjoyed Cantrell’s two previous Hannah Vogel spy/mystery novels. The series features the Nazi rise to power prior to the Second World War. After narrowly escaping Germany with her life four years before, Vogel now returns to Berlin in 1936 to cover the Berlin Olympics for a Swiss newspaper under an assumed name. Once again acting as a British courier transporting documents out of Germany, she also finds herself investigating the murder of a long time friend and colleague. Can she successfully get out of Germany a second time? I would recommend reading the books in order to get a greater feel for the characters and the time period.

The Ripper’s Wife

From  Andrea Kalinowski
Author:  Brandy Purdy
Title:  The Ripper’s Wife

Brandy Purdy’s newest release is The Ripper’s Wife. It offered a new perspective, fictional though it was, of how Jack the Ripper came to be. James Maybrick and Florence Chandler meet upon the ocean-liner The Baltic and it is a whirlwind romance of a week’s duration. They both have concealed aspects of their true nature from each other and this concealment leads to their ultimate downfall, both individually and as a married couple. Florence, or Florie as she is affectionately known, is a flirt and a coquette. She needs to be first in everyone’s affections. James Maybrick is the middle son and forever in competition with his eldest brother, Michael. James’ first passions are arsenic and strychnine. His second passion is visiting physicians’ offices to diagnose his many ailments, mainly imagined. He is a hypochondriac of the first order. The downfall begins when James’ “wife” comes to the door and speaks with Florie beseeching her to ask James to resume his payments for her and their five children.

The Reckoning

From Eileen Effrat

Author: Rennie Airth

Title: The Reckoning

This is the fourth in an historical mystery series spanning the early 1920’s to 1947 and featuring John Madden, a Scotland Yard Inspector. Now retired from the force, Madden is called back to investigate a series of execution style murders using a World War I German Lugar. Is this revenge for some past deed? I am a great fan of Airth’s John Madden series for its vivid description of England during the interwar years as well as the main character’s deductive crime solving abilities. It would be best to begin the series with River of Darkness, published in 1999.

Fear in the sunlight

From Eileen Effrat

Author:  Nicola  Upson

Title:  Fear in the sunlight

The year is 1936 and Josephine Tey, the famous Scot mystery writer and playwright,is celebrating her fortieth birthday at the exclusive resort village of Portmeirion in Wales. Tey is also scheduled to meet filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock while there to negotiate film rights for her book, A Shilling for Candles. This bucolic setting turns deadly when two women are brutally  murdered.  Although slow to start,once the murders begin the action heats up as some very nasty family secrets are exposed. If you are a Hitchcock fan, there is a lot of background and bio on the man and his wife. For a realistic period piece with some memorable characters, this could be a good choice.

A Touch of Stardust

From Andrea Kalinowski

Author:  Kate Alcott

Title:  A Touch of Stardust 

“Life holds surprises and sometimes you hold on – and let go – in different ways.” The book, A Touch of Stardust, by Kate Alcott, was a surprise hit with me. The protagonist, Julie Crawford, is a Midwestern transplant, who wears, as we all sometimes do, blinders to world occurrence.

This novel really caught my attention with its fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of movie production. David O. Selznick and George Cukor could not reconcile their divergent styles into a cohesive whole, and so Victor Fleming became director of Gone With the Wind shortly after the production’s start. Selznick had a definite vision for this masterpiece and woe betide anyone who saw a different vision.

Julie Crawford is unable to find the position she desires and so settles for working in the Publicity Department of David O. Selznick Productions. Julie’s foray into Hollywood is being temporarily funded by her parents and has a definite sell-by date.

Julie’s world view rapidly changes through her association with Carole Lombard, Clark Gable, Andy Weinstein, and the looming threat of World War II. You can be sure a biography of Carole Lombard and/or Clark Gable will soon be on my reading table due in part to the portrait of these Hollywood legends painted in this novel.

An eye-opening peek at what it takes to bring a movie, successfully, to the big screen.

The Romanov sisters : the lost lives of the daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra

From  Eileen Effrat

Author:  Helen Rappaport

Title:  The Romanov sisters : the lost lives of the daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra 

The four daughters of Tsar Nicholas were the most talked about royals of the early twentieth century—–think Diana or Catherine.  Drawing on previously unpublished letters, diaries, and archival sources from private collections, Rappaport focuses on the their daily life, and the recollections of those closest to the girls. The daughters—Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia—referred to themselves as OTMA, while Alexandra called them her “girlies”. As the author states, “the girls never bristled against being a collective”.  What emerges in this biography is the unique individuality of each sister.   The book does not dwell on their final days in Ekaterinberg.  For that, you will have to read Rappaports previous book, The Last days of the Romanovs.   For those with an interest in Russian history, this is a meticulously researched and quite readable account of four sheltered girls  in the twilight of the Tsarist regime.

The Darkening Field

From Eileen Effrat

Author: William Ryan

Title: The Darkening Field

This is Ryan’s second Captain Alexi Korolev mystery. Sent from Moscow to Odessa, Korolev now investigates the murder of a dedicated party member filming a major Soviet movie. The woman is supposedly the lover of Yezhov, Stalin’s right-hand man.  Korolev finds himself once again treading lightly  in this extremely sensitive investigation.  As in his first novel, The Holy Thief,this is a good police procedural set in 1937 Moscow. If you enjoy Martin Cruz Smith’s Detective  Araday Renko  or Tom Rob Smith’s Detective Leo Demidov, Ryan’s Soviet based mystery series is for you.

Fatal enquiry

From Rosemarie Jerome

Author:  Will Thomas

Title:  Fatal enquiry

Private Agent Cyrus Barker is framed for murder and there is a reward for his capture.  With no funds, no solid leads in the case and everyone after him , he is forced to hide in the East End of Victorian London.  His assistant, Thomas Llewelyn,  must find the evidence to prove that Barker is innocent but the culprit is after him at every turn.  This sixth book in the series is a departure from the usual;  it is Llewelyn’s case with Barker lurking in the shadows.  I enjoyed the book but I missed the interaction between the two characters.  It did provide the reader with an opportunity to learn more about Barker\’s mysterious past.  Though the identity of the culprit is not a mystery, the chase, some surprises and the hunt for the truth creates a suspenseful adventure.  The cliffhangers hint at possibilities for their future exploits.