Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The Girl from Berlin

Book: The Girl from Berlin
Series: Liam Taggart & Catherine Lockhart
Author: Ronald H. Balson

An old friend calls Catherine Lockhart and Liam Taggart to his famous Italian restaurant to enlist their help. His aunt is being evicted from her home in the Tuscan hills by a powerful corporation claiming they own the deeds, even though she can produce her own set of deeds to her land. Catherine and Liam’s only clue is a bound handwritten manuscript, entirely in German, and hidden in its pages is a story long-forgotten…

Ada Baumgarten was born in Berlin in 1918, at the end of the Great War. The daughter of an accomplished first-chair violinist in the prestigious Berlin Philharmonic, she herself was a violin prodigy, Ada’s life was full of the rich culture of Berlin’s interwar society. She formed a deep attachment to her childhood friend Kurt, but they were torn apart by the growing unrest as her Jewish family came under suspicion. As the tides of history turned, it was her extraordinary talent that would carry her through an unraveling society turned to war, and make her a target even as it saved her, allowing her to move to Bologna―though Italy was not the haven her family had hoped, and further heartache awaited.

What became of Ada? How is she connected to the conflicting land deeds of a small Italian villa? As they dig through the layers of lies, corruption, and human evil, Catherine and Liam uncover an unfinished story of heart, redemption, and hope―the ending of which is yet to be written.-Goodreads

Review: Catherine Lockhart (attorney) and Liam Taggart (investigator) travel to Italy to help an elderly Italian woman who is being evicted from her home. In order to prepare Catherine for the case at hand, she is given a handwritten manuscript to read to understand the situation. The manuscript (which is essentially a second narrative) follows the story of Ada Baumgarten, a Jewish violin prodigy, during WWII. Who is Ada and how does this relate to an old woman who is trying to retain land in Italy? 

Like many books with dual narratives and timelines, the manuscript took center stage here. This was the strongest and most interesting part of the book. I enjoy WWII historical fiction and this was a heartbreaking tale. Lockhart and Taggart are part of a PI series which I've never read until this book so I think if I went into this thinking it was a PI type novel, I would have been very disappointed. Overall, I liked this. Balson is a talented writer but I was not interested in Lockhart and Taggart enough as characters to read any more of their series. 

Grade: 3/5 

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