The scope of Gertcher’s series has expanded, with Caroline’s cases now connected to globe-shaking events, but her sprightly, sparkling narrative voice remains a pleasure, and for all the winds of war gathered around her the tale remains agreeably breezy. That’s true even as Caroline handles encounters with Göring and Goebbels, endures Nazi squad combat in Germany, and faces the horrors of Mussolini’s colonization of Northern Africa. While crisply engaging, the tone never diminishes the real-world urgency of the material; Caroline proves as skilled with ammo clips as she is with clues.
The travelogue plotting keeps the events fresh, even as the variety of locales and missions lend this outing a serialized feeling. Holding it all together, though, is the paranoia that powers so many espionage tales: as she travels to Berlin, Vienna, Mogadishu and elsewhere, striving to untangle a particularly knotted set of webs involving assassinations, slavery, and the 20th century’s greatest monsters, who can Caroline trust? Wielding a Walther when necessary, the sleuth turned spy scrambles to stay a step ahead, saving lives and cracking cases but not always pulling off a perfect victory, as she slowly comes to understand the bigger threat: the shadow of Hitler.
Takeaway: A sleuth turns spy and faces the fascist threat in this engaging 1930s mystery thriller.
Great for fans of: Philip Kerr, Len Deighton.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A