Well, you never know what you’re going to find in the mail here at BookPage.

traceofsmokeYesterday I came across  A Trace of Smoke (Forge), whose jacket photograph of a rainy nighttime street scene with German-language signage and an U-bahn entrance drew me in at first glance.

In this debut novel by Rebecca Cantrell, crime reporter Hannah Vogel tries to solve the mystery of her brother’s death, hold onto her job and maybe fall in love—all while keeping a low profile. It’s Berlin, 1931, and you know what that means. To makes things even trickier, Hannah has loaned her identity papers to a Jewish friend trying to emigrate to the U.S.

Too bad I didn’t have this book this past (very rainy) weekend; I would have curled up with it, neglecting my other reading duties.

Ah, time for full disclosure: Becky Cantrell—sorry, that’s Rebecca Cantrell—was my roommate for a year at Carnegie Mellon University. She doesn’t know that I later won a fellowship to Germany, spent a year in Berlin and became fairly proficient in German (uh, don't test me on that, I'm rather rusty).

Becky went to high school in Berlin, and also studied there in college. She captures the essence of that fascinating city in her new book, while also creating a well-written period piece set in the last days of the Weimar Republic.

A Trace of Smoke pubs May 12.

Gratuliere, Becky!

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