Back in December, I listed my book picks of 2009. Top of the list, as one of my two standouts was this:
A Trace Of Smoke, Rebecca Cantrell
I am delighted to report that the winner of the Bruce Alexander award for best historical mystery of 2009 has gone to...Rebecca, for A Trace of Smoke!
What impresses me most about this book is it takes on such a tough subject: 1931 Berlin, the Nazis are on the rise, the heroine is a woman reporter, and the victim is a transsexual working a gay bar. You'd think this premise would be the kiss of death, but Rebecca handles it beautifully by matching her writing to the setting.
The writing style is rather stark, which reflects the reality of life then, and I have a personal theory that the writing reflects German in some sense, so that when you read, it's as if you're reading it in the original language. (It might help that I speak a little German, so I can see how if you threw some verbs to the end of the sentences, it could have a Germanic feel.)
The effect is to totally take you to the time and place.
Yay for Rebecca!