Death of a Diva: From Berlin to Broadway
Adult; Mystery/Thriller; (Market)
The murder of an internationally renowned star of screen and stage at a Broadway theater in the summer of 1941 sets off a police investigation that reaches back to pre-WWI Vienna and 1920s Berlin in Brigitte Goldstein's densely plotted new novel.
Stella Berger, former darling of stage and cinema in Weimar Germany and of late an outspoken critic of the Nazi regime, is found strangled in her dressing room during a triumphal run on Broadway. Assisting in the police search for the killer is Misia Safran, a young Jewish refugee, who traces Stella’s life from her humble beginnings in a Viennese Jewish ghetto to her rise to stardom and international fame. To do so, she must cut through the thicket of self-serving testimony from the people around the star. Could veiled hints at a closely guarded secret in Stella’s past imperil the image of her public persona yet also provide the clue to solving the crime?
From the coffeehouse culture of pre-WWI Vienna to the cabaret milieu of 1920s Berlin and subsequently to exile in war-time New York, this novel takes the reader on a cultural whirlwind tour as the characters flee cross the continent from Nazi persecution.
Plot/Idea: 6 out of 10
Originality: 5 out of 10
Prose: 3 out of 10
Character/Execution: 3 out of 10
Overall: 4.25 out of 10
Set in New York City in 1941, this novel follows German immigrant Misia Safran after she becomes involved in the investigation of theater star Stella Berger’s murder. Misia’s encounters with those who are involved in the investigation are overshadowed by sections recounting drawn-out personal and family histories as well as Eastern European history. While the basic premise is interesting, readers may find themselves bored by the book's many digressions.
Date Submitted: June 27, 2016
The murder of a prominent Broadway actress and international movie star in 1941 New York City drives Goldstein’s suspenseful whodunit. Austrian immigrant Stella Berger, acclaimed for her portrayal of Desdemona, was, ironically, strangled in her dressing room during a run of Othello. Suspicion falls on the empathetic narrator, Misia Safran, a premed college student who considered Stella a mentor and a hero for her outspoken opposition to the Nazi regime. On the fatal afternoon, Misa let a street musician who played the violin opposite the theater’s entrance into the building shortly before Stella was murdered. With no solid evidence against Misia, the police release her, but keep her under surveillance. Aided by her boyfriend, law student Curtis Wolff, the future doctor does her best to learn the truth about Stella’s death. Flashbacks from the perspective of violinist Viktor Erdos, who knew Stella in Europe, enhance the mystery plot en route to a satisfying surprise resolution. (BookLife)