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Shadow and Light


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Brilliant plot set in new German film industry Menacing atmosphere of inter-war Berlin Unsurpassed historical understanding

About the Author

Jonathan Rabb is a full-time novelist who lives in New York City. Widely translated, he is rapidly becoming known as one of the strongest voices in thrillers. Now published by prestigious Farrar Straus in the US.


Morose, self-loathing Nikolai Hoffner, chief inspector in Weimar Berlin's Kriminalpolizei, was first introduced in Rosa, in which he investigated the murder of German Communist Rosa Luxemburg. It's now 1927, and Hoffner is called in to investigate the death of a German film magnate-a murder disguised to look like suicide. The story that follows is convoluted, tricky, and at times confusing, but it grips the reader's attention throughout. In the end, Hoffner solves the murder, but there is no feeling of triumph, so much does he lose en route. He has a love affair that never gets off the ground, and he won't let the son who loves him get close. His other son, who hates him, joins Herr Doktor Goebbels and his nasty crowd, just then becoming a force in German politics. Rabb's second entry in his German trilogy is both a first-rate historical novel and a singularly artful crime noir that will remind readers of Alan Furst (The Spies of Warsaw). That's good company! Enthusiastically recommended for public collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/08.]-David Keymer, Modesto, CA Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Set in 1927 Germany, Rabb's superb sequel to Rosa correlates the advent of talking movies with the rise of Nazism. When Kriminal-Oberkommisar Nikolai Hoffner investigates the apparent suicide of an Ufa film studio executive, the trail leads the Berlin policeman to the sex and drug trade as well as to the National Socialist German Workers Party's local leader, Joseph Goebbels. Working with Helen Coyle, an attractive American talent agent for MGM, Hoffner learns how cutthroat the picture business is. Rumors of films with sound threaten to change the industry. "Without sound, all you have is shadow and light," an inventor tells Hoffner. With sound, movies can do a lot more than entertain, as soon to be shown by Nazi propaganda films and newsreels. Rabb's meticulous research brings to life a corrupt society vulnerable to extremism. Well-conceived cameos by director Fritz Lang and actor Peter Lorre add to the intrigue. Author tour. (Apr.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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