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Tuesday, July 2, 2013


A Review of Rebecca Cantrell's A CITY OF BROKEN GLASS

A CITY OF BROKEN GLASS is the fourth in Rebecca Cantrell's Hannah Vogel series set in Berlin of the 1930s. In this outing, the year is 1938 and we find Vogel, a reporter, in Poland to cover an event. With her adopted son in tow, she stumbles upon a Nazi secret: thousands of Jews of Polish heritage have been expelled from Germany and are being held by the Polish government in appalling conditions. Trying to do something about this gets her arrested by the Gestapo who try to smuggle her across the border. Her old lover, Lars, saves the day but they are forced to hide out in Berlin while they plan to leave for good.

But you can't keep the intrepid Vogel down. She wants to know who betrayed her to the Gestapo while investigating a murder and the case of a missing child. These plot elements should be the ingredients for a tense thriller that bookends with the Polish deportations leading Herschel Grynszpan to assassinate Ernst vom Rath and Krystallnacht which was the result. Sadly, the novel does not live up to the historical setting.

A CITY OF BROKEN GLASS is the second Vogel story I've read. I began with the first in the series, A TRACE OF SMOKE (to be reviewed here soon) so I came to the material with some expectations. In picking up the novel, I'd hoped that between books #1 and #4, the writing would have improved but this is not the case with A CITY OF BROKEN GLASS. Vogel is still more concerned about her love-triangle romance and her adopted son than the tide of history and this gets as old in this offering as it did in the first. The novel is researched but period details rarely appear in the sparsely written, screenplay like text. History truly takes a backseat to romantic triangles and motherhood. The title is misleading as well since Krystallnacht doesn't actually begin until the last 20 or so pages. There is an intriguing murder plot but this is left to the ol' "sudden revelation" near the end to break the case. Not surprising really as Vogel's love life is always more important than the rise of Nazism.

Cantrell is bringing Berlin Noir to, what I am guessing, is a mostly female readers and for that she is to be applauded for trying to bring the genre to a broader audience. As a reader who, admittedly, is no fan of the Romance genre, I find the novel lacking and the subject matter much better handled by others. That said, however, if Romance fiction is your cup of tea, then I think A CITY OF BROKEN GLASS will satisfy while providing a superficial overview of one of the most turbulent, and interesting, periods in human history.


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