Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Night of Long Knives: Rebecca Cantrell

A Night of Long Knives is the second book in a four book series by Rebecca Cantrell. The series is set in Germany in the 1930's prior to World War II. This book takes place in 1934, in the cities of Munich and Berlin. This is one of my favorite books of the year, and I find it hard to review. To tell much about the story, I have to reveal some events that unfold in the first book. I don't want to do that so my synopsis will be brief and incomplete

Hannah Vogel was a journalist in Berlin three years earlier, but circumstances forced her to flee Germany. She has lived in Brazil since then. This story starts with Hannah making a trip from Brazil to Switzerland via zeppelin, enticed to Switzerland to write a story about the trip. This trip could give her a rare opportunity to spend some time with her lover, Boris. Unfortunately, the zeppelin does not get to Switzerland. It is rerouted to Germany and Hannah is kidnapped by Ernst Rohm, head of the SA.

The story is told in first person, by Hannah. She is headstrong and independent, and willing to take risks. She is also anxious about the situation she is in and doubts her ability to survive at times. She comes across as a brave young woman, struggling with the situation she has been placed in. On the days following her capture, the Nazi purge called the Night of the Long Knives begins, and she escapes. Nevertheless, she is still in a dangerous situation.

This is the second book in a row that I have read written by a female author and featuring a strong, independent female character. In addition, Hannah Vogel's story shows us Germany at a time when many are forced to join the Nazi party in order to keep their jobs, where parents are afraid to speak their mind because their children may inform on them.

I enjoyed this book immensely. My review of the first book, A Trace of Smoke, is here. I borrowed this book from my husband and he has the entire series. He liked all of the books, but the third was his favorite, so I am looking forward to continuing the series.

At the author's web site, these quotes describe very well what I thought of this amazing book:

 “In the midst of an action-filled plot, A NIGHT OF LONG KNIVES will make you think. It should remind you of all that we take for granted on a daily basis. The blending of historical facts and the passionately imagined lives of these characters makes for a thought-provoking, riveting read.” –Jen Forbus at jensbookthoughts

“A Night of Long Knives” does what I love historical fiction to accomplish. It makes me interested in learning more about the times presented and as a sequel it shows characters from previous books moving forward as individuals and evolving in their relationships with each other…Brava on a job well done and I’m looking forward to more adventures with Hannah and Co.” – Jayne at dearauthor.com

“This is a fascinating, meticulously researched view into Germany in the 1930′s.  Hannah again shows her bravery matches anyone, and she finds a way to deal with some of the world’s most evil people, coming out on top…The characters are fully drawn and both inspiring for bravery, as well as inspiring hate, for their horrific actions.  I felt like I was in a Germany of a time we wish could be erased.  The setting is extraordinarily well done.  I look forward to the next book in the series.” — Maggie Mason, Deadly Pleasures Magazine

“Rebecca Cantrell has written another exciting thriller and with Hannah Vogel’s sometimes frenetic first person narrative she gives the reader a feeling of what it must have been like to be in Germany during those terrible years. She has cleverly blended her fictional story in with real life events and real life characters, such as British journalist Sefton Delmer, while cleverly imparting snippets of information that add to the atmosphere.” — CrimeScraps


20 comments:

  1. Thanks TracyK - as long as the history is well-rendered I always like books of this type - though it iinfuriates me when anachronisms start flying around the place!

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    1. Sergio, I think you would like it. I did not notice anachronisms, but my husband is the one more likely to do that... and he never mentioned a problem with it. The author mentions in a note at the end that she played around greatly with the real-life events, but clearly that did not cause a problem for me.

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  2. I like the sound of this and the other one, though whether I actually need it is debatable. Perhaps I should read some of the David Downing's or Philip Kerr's that I have been ignoring.
    You and Glen need to start reading uninteresting books that I won't be so envious about!

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    1. Col, you should definitely work on the series by Downing and Kerr first, then one day you can try this. I have read 5 of the 9 books in Kerr's Bernie Gunther series and I have the next four. For Downing, I have read only one. The series are all different in tone but all good.

      And turn about is fair play as far as reading books that are enticing. I think half the books that Glen has purchased recently were suggested by you in one way or another.

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  3. This sounds great, but it sounds as though I should start with the first book?

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    1. Moira, definitely start with the first book. If you don't like that one, then you would not like the 2nd one. And there are descriptions of clothes in this book, I assume that there would have been some in the first book also, although you know me, I miss those things.

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  4. Tracy - Oh, I'm very glad that you enjoyed this as much as you did. I think it's a terrific series, and Hannah Vogel is a good character. Cantrell captures the atmosphere very effectively too I think.

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    1. Margot, yes, this is a very interesting historical mystery series with a character you care about.

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  5. I don't read much historical crime fiction (or maybe I haven't read any), but this series sounds interesting. Thanks for the review, Tracy!

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    1. There is so much to read, Rebecca. I like historical mysteries, especially set around WWII. But there are problems with it. The time setting is always emphasized, sometimes to the detriment of the plot. But there are some really good ones, and this series works for me.

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  6. So happy to see you enjoyed this one and this series! I must read it. I made the mistake of reading this series out of order and it wasn't the smartest move (read the last book first). I have the first two in the series so I will make the effort to read them next year.

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    1. Keishon, Part of my enjoyment of the first book was being completely surprised by the choices that Hannah makes. Maybe that would not work for you because you have already read #4. But still, I think it is worth a try. WWII history is so interesting, before, during, and after.

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  7. I read the first book in this series and enjoyed it very much. I haven't got around to any of the others but this one sounds good too.

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    1. Sarah, the second book in this series is good. Sometimes not entirely realistic, yet I like it anyway.

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  8. Tracy, I have heard and read much about the night of the long knives that helped Hitler consolidate power. I'm intrigued by the premise of this novel. I'm going to line up this book for my reading next year. Nazi Germany makes for interested fiction.

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    1. Prashant, Nazi Germany is a very interesting topic for fiction (and non-fiction for that matter). I am interested in all historical mysteries that take place around WWII, but the ones that are in Germany are especially good.

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  9. I wish I could read this series but I can't read about WWII horrors and nazis, /If I could, this series would be the first I'd read. I appreciate the author and the strong woman protagonist.

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    1. Kathy, I understand. There are topics I have to avoid too. I don't want to read about children being hurt, and some books are just too tense for me. When torture is involved, I have to pass the book up.

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  10. I have long been fascinated by this day (or rather night)...one night and so many people dead! Thanks for the review. I really want to read this book now.

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    1. Me too, Neer, this event is one I want to know more about. This book covers it from an unusual angle.

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