The Riddle of Prague
Drawing on time spent living in Prague, DeBruce debuts with this thriller, first in a planned trilogy, set in 1991 following the fall of Communism. Eighteen-year-old Hana Silna returns to her exiled family's Prague home to reclaim it on behalf of her ailing mother, and is immediately sucked into a bizarre mystery involving multiple murders. It turns out that different factions are seeking a flask that holds the key to immortality, lost centuries ago, and Hana has accidentally discovered the only clues to its whereabouts. She must find the flask before it falls into the wrong hands, but with immortal schemers around every corner, and everyone out for themselves, she's not sure who she can trust—including Alex, a dashing young American, and David, who turns up when least expected. DeBruce does a lovely job of drawing on historical lore, local atmosphere, and the post-Soviet era (marvel at the brick-size mobile telephone!), but the somewhat convoluted plot and frequent twists can make the narrative hard to follow. Some characters come off as flat or inscrutable, and the inconclusive ending lands abruptly. Ages 12–up.