***Winner of the Macavity and Bruce Alexander Award!***
It's 1931 in Berlin, and the world is on the precipice of change—the affluent still dance in their gilded cages but more and more people are living under threat and poverty. Hannah Vogel is a crime reporter forced to write under the male pseudonym Peter Weill. As a widow of the Great War, she's used to doing what she must to survive. Her careful facade is threatened when she stumbles across a photograph of her brother in the Hall of the Unnamed Dead. Reluctant to make a formal identification until she has all the details, Hannah decides to investigate, herself. She must be cautious as Ernst's life as a cross-dressing cabaret star was ringed in scandal, and his list of lovers included at least one powerful leader in the Nazi party.
She's barely had a chance to begin before an endearing five-year-old orphan shows up on her doorstep holding a birth certificate listing her dead brother Ernst as his father, and calling Hannah 'Mother.' Further complicating matters are her evolving feelings for Boris Krause, a powerful banker whose world is the antithesis of Hannah's. Boris has built a solid wall preventing anyone from disturbing his, or his daughter Trudi's, perfectly managed lives—a wall Hannah and Anton are slowly breaking down.
As Hannah digs, she discovers political intrigues and scandals touching the top ranks of the rising Nazi party. Fired from her job and on the run from Hitler's troops, she must protect herself and the little boy who has come to love her, but can she afford to find love for herself?
Praise for the novel:
"Bold narrator and chilling historical setting...an unusually vivid context, [lets] Hannah report on the decadence of her world without losing her life –or her mind."-- New York Times
"Nails both the 'life is a cabaret' atmosphere and the desperation floating inside the champagne bubbles." – Booklist
"Evocative and hauntingly crafted...a treasure of suspense, romance, and murder. Her ability to spin history into a visceral reality is done with the artistry of a master storyteller."-- James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author of The Seventh Plague
"A compelling and human story that captures brilliantly the atmosphere of Berlin during the rise of the Nazis."--Anne Perry, New York Times bestselling author of We Shall Not Sleep
Set in 1931 Berlin, Cantrell's scrupulously researched debut tolls a somber dirge for Weimar Germany in its last days. In the Hall of the Unnamed Dead, Hannah Vogel, a 32-year-old crime reporter for the Berliner Tageblatt, recognizes a photograph of a naked corpse on a riverbank as that of her beloved brother, Ernst, an unabashedly gay transvestite cabaret singer. In her search for Ernst's killer, Hannah uncovers his sexual connections reach from newly recruited young Nazis to the highest levels of the Nazi party. Hannah and Anton, a five-year-old waif who claims Ernst was his father, along with her tender lover, Boris, tread an ominous tightrope as Cantrell unveils the best and the worst of the German character, setting the humanity of decent Germans, Jews and gentiles alike, against the Nazis' raw savagery and mindless militarism. This unforgettable novel, which can be as painful to read as the history it foreshadows, builds to an appropriately bittersweet ending.