A Trace of Smoke (Hannah Vogel) by Rebeca Cantrell
A Trace of Smoke, set in 1931 Berlin, is the first of a Hannah Vogel trilogy. Hannah is a journalist and her brother, Ernst is a cross-dressing singer in a well-known lounge. Hannah finds his picture among those posted in the Hall of the Unnamed Dead and embarks on a journey to find out which of his homosexual lovers has committed this crime. Through her work, she has contacts who will help her unravel the mystery but as she begins, a five-year-old boy appears on her doorstep, his birth certificate stating that she is his mother and her brother, Ernst, his father.
This is definitely adult fare. With the trial of a child molester for a backdrop, an SS officer tracking her on suspicion of murder, and the boy kidnapped by a high-ranking homosexual SS officer, claiming him as his son, Hannah is forced to kidnap the boy back and flee for her life. Highly descriptive of this time in German history, this suspenseful, well-researched story reveals the seamier side of Berlin nightlife, the tension building between ordinary people and the military when it concerns Jewish businesses and ghettos, and how the influence of naziism controlled the jobs of ordinary German citizens, especially journalists. Once you’ve read this, you’ll be hooked and want to go on to the next two books: A Game of Lies and A Night of Long Knives.