cover image A Night of Long Knives

A Night of Long Knives

Rebecca Cantrell. Forge, 24.99 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-2045-2

Cantrell’s sequel to her acclaimed debut, A Trace of Smoke (2009), will disappoint those expecting a realistic portrayal of 1934 Nazi Germany. When the zeppelin transporting journalist Hannah Vogel and her adopted son, Anton, to Switzerland lands in Germany instead, the pair are captured by Ernst Röhm, head of the paramilitary SA, who claims to be the boy’s father. Hannah manages to get away from Röhm through the coincidental intervention of Hitler himself, who happens to enter Röhm’s hotel room to have him arrested at just the right time. The plot focuses on Hannah’s search for Anton, with a murder mystery thrown in two-thirds of the way through. Full of miraculous escapes, the novel comes across as a far-fetched thriller rather than a serious effort to convey the tightening Nazi grip. Readers interested in suspenseful books set during the same period in Europe will find Alan Furst’s spy series (Shadow Trade, etc.) more rewarding. (June)