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BOOK REVIEW: CITY OF SHADOWS
BY ARIANA FRANKLIN

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In the Berlin of the 1920's, inflation is rampant. Middle income people find their savings worthless, black markets thrive, and nightclubs, strip parlors, and the forerunners of gay and lesbian bars thrive as curious tourists with hard currency to spend fill the tables and drink the cheap liquor.

Esther, a young Jewish woman finds a steady job in a shady nightclub thanks to her proficiency in several languages. When the nightclub proprietor befriends an eccentric mental patient and announces plans to pass her off as Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia, Esther finds herself involved against her better judgement. And problems multiply as it becomes clear that the mysterious woman's irrational fears are not so irrational after all - someone is stalking her at regular intervals. Two people who might know something of her past are found dead, tortured and their throats slashed open. Esther's assignment to keep the mysterious "Anastasia" safe is threatened with disaster.

In the meantime, the Berlin police force faces the same deprivations as the rest of the populace. Something in the chain of events involving Esther and murders occurring among her acquaintances attracts Detective Schmidt and he becomes convinced that Esther is correct - there is a mass murderer at work in Berlin.

Ten years later, in the weeks just prior to Hitler's election as Chancellor, all the various threads converge in a series of tense confrontations. More murders occur, the chain of authority in the ranks of the police force is in turmoil as the Gestapo takes over, Schmidt and Esther strive to make sense of it all.

This is a very entralling and atmospheric read. Highly recommended.

REVIEWED BY WOODSTOCK

DO NOT REPRINT WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE REVIEWER, WOODSTOCK

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