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Death of a Diva: From Berlin to Broadway
By: Brigitte Goldstein
Publisher: Pierredor Books
Publication Date: September 2014
Reviewed by: Charline Ratcliff
Date: March 26, 2015
When I was asked to review Death of a Diva: From Berlin to Broadway by Brigitte Goldstein, I was only too happy to accept. I love thrillers and mysteries (I was an avid Nancy Drew lover as a child) as well as Historical Fiction, and here was a book that looked like it combined both genres.
Finding some time (and the nearest quiet corner), I sat down to read. And let me tell you – Death of a Diva: From Berlin to Broadway starts out with one heck of a bang. The much loved, admired, and idolized star of both stage and screen, actress Stella Berger, has been discovered brutally murdered.
Stella Berger, the heart stoppingly beautiful not to mention amazingly talented German-Jewish immigrant, the actress who, at the end of every performance would publicly pray that her homeland and the rest of the world be delivered from the “Nazi Scourge” now lies dead – strangled to death with a violin string. The entire world is shocked by this news and the list of suspects seeking Miss Berger’s demise is growing longer by the moment.
But let me shift your attention to Misia Safran – another German-Jewish immigrant, and one who worked at the theater where Stella Berger’s lifeless body was discovered. She is the prime suspect for this grisly murder – and if she isn’t the actual perpetrator then the police are certain that she's at least an accomplice who knows much, but is telling little.
Who was the homeless derelict that she allowed into the theater without making him buy a ticket? How does Misia really expect the police to believe that her grave ‘mistake,’ the one that claimed the life of an internationally adored public figure, had been done out of kindness only; with no ulterior motive?
Not getting what they want from Misia, she is 'released' – although she has now acquired two tails. And, she has also just espied the derelict that the police are still seeking...
I don’t want to provide any further details about Death of a Diva: From Berlin to Broadway, but I certainly appreciated the European history tour that author Brigitte Goldstein took me on. This tale was a unique blend of geography, cultures and nationalities – spun back and forth inside a time when being a Jew, or being sympathetic to their plight, carried heavy penalties; including death.
While I know that Death of a Diva: From Berlin to Broadway is not Goldstein's debut novel – it is only the second of her books that I've read. I'm certainly looking forward to reading her others because she's a great writer. Death of a Diva: From Berlin to Broadway features appropriately descriptive scenes and the character dialogue/interactions make sense. In whole, the story flowed well with only a couple places where the 'telling' of the tale felt sluggish – but not enough to dampen my enjoyment.
Quill says: Death of a Diva: From Berlin to Broadway was an interesting and intriguing read. Difficult to put down once started; and featuring a nice merry-go-round of 'who done it' character possibilities.
For more information on Death of a Diva: From Berlin to Broadway, please visit the publisher's website at: www.pierredorbooks.com
Night Is the Hunter: A Harlan Donnally Novel
By: Steven Gore
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: February 2015
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: March 21, 2015
Steven Gore treats his audience to the latest installment of his Harlan Donnally detective series: Night is the Hunter.
In the pristine beauty of winter making way for imminent spring, Harlan Donnally and his long-time friend, Judge Ray McMullin, stand immersed in their thoughts as they unconsciously cast their lines. In the quiet waters at the base of Mount Shasta, Donnelly assesses the troubled expression on McMullin’s face. This was supposed to be a day of fishing. Unfortunately it ended with Donnally’s realization he had yet another case to investigate—a case Donnally didn’t know would be the foundation for vindicating his friend’s death penalty decision. Twenty years before McMullin decided a case that would deposit a man on death row. Now it was Donnally’s turn to expose a corruption that ran far too deep and lay beneath an unstable surface for way too long.
Israel Dominquez was on death row for a gangland murder. He professed his innocence throughout the trial and never changed his story the closer he got to making his final journey to his execution. Sadly, nobody believed him. This is to say until Judge Ray McMullin decided to question his own processes leading to the decision of death (and the twenty year gap between the decision and the imminent day of reckoning is upon him). Was McMullin too young and entrenched in making his own legacy back then? Did his personal mission of notoriety cloud his judgments and has his conscience come back and tapped the Judge on his should before it’s too late? Or perhaps, Dominquez really is guilty and the fact he was a member of the notorious Norteno gang of Northern California solidified his inevitable fate. These along with many other questions were the foundation for Donnally to don his investigative cap once more and hone his skills to get to the truth no matter the damages that would be deposited in its wake.
In the three years I’ve been a book reviewer, I find myself often uttering the phrase: “...while I’ve yet to read any of XXX’s work, after reading XXX, I plan to go back and read...” Once again, my promise to do just that will hold true in the case of Steven Gore’s work. It is a sheer pleasure to pick up a book written by an author who clearly demonstrates he had the vision of how he would tell his story from the first paragraph on. In Night is the Hunter, Gore not only demonstrates a confident command of his pen, but displays the obvious: he had a thought and knew how he would play it out across the pages to not only engage his audience, but the end result would be a terrific detective thriller that manages to keep the reader on the edge of his seat throughout the read. If I had my druthers of what it is I like to read in a book, hands down it would be to see an intentional balance between prose and dialogue—dialogue taking the forefront more than prose. Gore portrays the ability to do so in Night is the Hunter. What makes this book even more interesting is his obvious knowledge of knowing his way around a homicide investigation. Why wouldn’t he given his credentials of “...renowned private investigator turned 'masterful' writer...”? Night is the Hunter takes real situations, current events that plague our society today and mixed together, what plays out is one, fine novel. Thanks Mr. Gore! This is a great read and I look forward to future adventures of Harlan Donnally.
Quill says: Night is the Hunter is a detective thriller that will have the reader engaged from the opening paragraph to the proverbial ‘the end.’
One of the countries I have always wanted to visit is Ireland so anytime I find a book related to Irish folklore I definitely grab it up. With the book Reluctantly Charmed by Ellio O’Neill I was instantly swept up in the whimsical legends of fairies with a modern twist that made for a great and intriguing story.
When Kate McDaid comes upon her twenty-sixth birthday she has a few things she is focusing on to make better in the near future. One of those is her job where she has been hoping for a promotion, and then the other is her social life that has not been going so great up to now. However, she has a positive outlook on what is coming up next but never in a million years did she expect such an unusual invitation from a long gone relative. The invitation comes from a local attorney who requests Kate’s presence at the reading of a will of her great-great-great-grand aunt who was also named Kate McDaid. In this will Kate is told that she will inherit her ancestor’s estate if and only if she publishes a series of seven poems called “The Seven Steps.” Thinking that she could easily publish these steps on a forgotten blog page that no one will ever be interested in, Kate sees this as an opportunity to inherit something great, for an estate must include something extravagant. So, deciding to go through with publishing these steps she puts up the first poem not expecting anyone to see it or even care what it says, however she could not be more wrong.
In a matter of days Kate has a huge group of followers who are obsessed with these steps thinking that if they continue to read them they will be able to communicate with fairies. Suddenly Kate finds herself an instant but reluctant celebrity as she finds that being famous means nothing in her life is private. Now her every move is followed, her every word is listened to, and everyone is holding their breath as each of these seven steps are revealed. As she nears the final step, however, Kate may have to decide if publishing the seventh step will cause more harm than good.
From the very first page I enjoyed every bit of this story as I thought it expertly combined whimsical legends of the past with a modern setting. Using the blog on the internet as the way to publish the steps brought the story into the present as of course the internet is a huge part of everyone’s life. The changes that Kate McDaid had to make as she went through this journey made her easily relatable and each time I sat down with this book I could place myself in her shoes perfectly. This was a great book that I would recommend to anyone.
Quill says: This is a fantastic combination of a modern character and setting with an intriguing fantasy legend that will have you quickly turning pages.