This novel begins in Berlin in 1930 with a prostitute, Gaelle, taking money and leaving her trick. As it turns out, by the first sentence, we have already met “the informer” who is a twenty-two year old girl with a telling facial scar. Besides serving as an informant for a meticulously-dressed Nazi, she also is keeping the head of the Red Front Fighters, a communist group, informed with the secrets she gains from her clients. There is risk in this, but she is also risking her life by the work she does since there is a serial murderer killing prostitutes. Enter Armina Treffen, a female detective who is investigating these murders. And this detective also befriends Karl, who is a front man for the Red Front Fighters, but works with Armina to protect Gaelle. It seems as though everyone has ulterior motives and we, the reader, must figure out who we should be rooting for.
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In her investigation, Armina is drawn to a main park where much of the sex trade goes on and victims have met their end. She waits for the murderer to make his next move so that she can make her move, catch him in the act, and end the killings before Gaelle becomes the next fatality. Armina is not sure if it is a copycat murderer since she initially thought the criminal was snagged, but then she cannot help wonder if there is politics somehow involved in what is going on in this city with so much division and secrets.
There is a dark eeriness throughout this well-written novel, one that includes, Felix, a sixteen-year old boy who is a pimp and a friend of Gaelle's. There is a mystery to this young boy that readers will be stunned to discover, if they have the patience to continue reading, meaning one needs to pay close attention to all the details to get a clear understanding of what is occurring. The story concludes, surprisingly, many years later, when Hitler is about to fall, but not before we realize that the characters in this grim story want love and safety, but are distracted by having to escape the power hungry, and survival is of the utmost importance.
Best part of story, including ending:
I thought the writing was smart and forced me to pay attention.
Best scene in story:
When Felix is washing Gaelle's stockings with a gentleness that is both sweet and unsettling.
Opinion about the main character:
Her resolve to survive in spite of the dangers that she had to deal with.