Midnight in Berlin by James MacManus

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Midnight in Berlin by James MacManus

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Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: A thrilling setting and wonderfully painted descriptions combine to help form a strong plot.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: January 2016
Publisher: Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0715650332

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Berlin – 1938. In the British Embassy, military attaché Colonel Macrae prepares to defy his ambassador and government, and assassinate Hitler. Elsewhere, Sara Sternschein appears on stage in her role as the lead in the Gestapo's brothel – the Salon Kitty. She has no choice, her twin brother is being held in a concentration camp. In the Gestapo Headquarters, Obergruppenfuhrer Joaqim Bonner waits and watches – with his eyes on Sara Sternschein as his secret weapon. As Colonel Macrae gathers intelligence for his mission he finds himself drawn to Salon Kitty – but does Sara hold the key to thwarting Hitler, or is Macrae being manipulated?

Foreign correspondent for the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph, managing editor for The Times and the Times Literary Supplement, as well as an executive director for News International, author James MacManus has writing experience galore, and that's before considering the four previous books he has published in the last ten years.

That journalistic experience perhaps helped shape the setting and story of this book, based on a true story, and exploring the wonderfully intriguing landscape that is the politics of the late 1930's in both Germany and Britain. With countries teetering on the verge of war, and the Nazi party ruling Berlin with an iron fist, the possibilities for drama are endless. MacManus has chosen to follow elements of a true tale, and bases the novel around the British Government Policies that, ultimately, helped promote the very war they were put in place to prevent. Throw in a handsome British Officer, a desperate Jewish girl struggling to survive amongst a nest of Gestapo, and a determined German officer dedicated to his cause – and the ingredients for a cracking thriller are all there.

Thankfully, MacManus makes the most of them - everything is blended in such a way that this book reads like part literary thriller, part old war movie, with a strong sense of pace and compelling characters. The journalistic style of the author comes out in some of the detailed descriptions, although the speech between characters can, at times feel a little stilted, which in many books would be a pain, but here almost feels like it fits in with the setting, and I was soon so engaged with the plot that it failed to matter.

Many thanks to the publishers for the copy.

For further reading I would recommend Restless by William Boyd. Twisting, captivating, and beautifully written.

Buy Midnight in Berlin by James MacManus at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Midnight in Berlin by James MacManus at Amazon.co.uk

Buy Midnight in Berlin by James MacManus at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Midnight in Berlin by James MacManus at Amazon.com.


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