An infamous date in history provides the backdrop for a race-against-the-clock thriller.
While investigating the murder of her bisexual cabaret-performer brother three years ago in 1931, journalist Hannah Vogel fled Germany with the very young Anton, foiling the plot of real-life Nazi Cabinet minister Ernst Rohm, who had intended to counter accurate rumors of his homosexuality by marrying Hannah and passing Anton off as his own (A Trace of Smoke, 2009). Now, under a forged passport identifying her as Adelheid Zinsli, Hannah has accepted an assignment to travel in the newfangled zeppelin from her home in South America to Switzerland. When the zeppelin takes an unexpected detour into Germany, Hannah realizes that she and Anton have fallen into Rohm’s trap. After a predictably icy reunion, Hannah immediately goes into mental overdrive figuring how to get Anton back. Then Hitler arrives with storm troopers who seize Rohm at the beginning of what will come to be known as The Night of the Long Knives. Hannah visits Rohm in prison just before he’s executed, and a humane guard helps her flee. Following a trail often stained by violence, she criss-crosses the city as both pursued and pursuer. She reconnects with many old friends, including her old lover Boris, and allies herself with, of all people, Rohm’s mother.
Cantrell keeps the close calls and cliffhangers coming, but her prose is overheated. Some readers may have a hard time absorbing the complicated back story upon which empathy with the heroine hinges.