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A TRACE OF SMOKE by Rebecca Cantrell Kirkus Star


by Rebecca Cantrell

Pub Date: May 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-7653-2044-5
Publisher: Forge

A crime reporter investigates the murder of her brother, a cabaret nightingale, in Cantrell’s haunting debut novel.

Hannah Vogel regularly scans pictures of the unnamed dead in search of a good story. This time, she stops short when she finds an image of her beloved brother Ernst, naked and abandoned, posted alongside pictures of wretched prostitutes and victims of Nazi mobs. Beautiful, fey Ernst had always been vulnerable to their father’s attempts to make a man of him, and now it’s too late for the authorities to help him or Hannah, who have loaned their identification papers to Sarah and Tobias, radical Jewish friends desperate to emigrate. Unable to bring herself or Ernst to the attention of the police until her friends are safe in New York, Hannah must investigate her brother’s death herself. She begins at the El Dorado, the underground cabaret where Ernst was the star. There she discovers that a dancer has profited from Ernst’s death by becoming the new headliner, and there are rumors that Ernst was flouting his longtime companion by taking a Nazi lover. Hannah’s true shock, however, comes when a grave, malnourished boy appears on her doorstep as she arrives home near dawn, claiming against all odds to be Ernst’s son. Now Hannah must discover both Ernst’s killer and the boy’s true identity as the Sturm Abteilung closes in around them.

Evocative, compassionate and compelling.