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City of Shadows    by Ariana Franklin order for
City of Shadows
by Ariana Franklin
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

It's Berlin, 1920. World War I is over. The Russian Revolution is a thing of the recent past. Both countries are trying to claw their way out of the ruins war leaves behind. Living conditions are hard, but the high life acquired by spoils of the war continues in Berlin. Most people live by their wits and what they can con others out of. Esther Solomonova arrives from Russia with a will to survive. Jewish, her very existence is jeopardized by the slow ascension to power of Adolf Hitler whose hatred of Jews, Gypsies and foreigners will dominate his rhetoric in the coming years.

Anna Anderson emerges from the dust, claiming to be the Romanov Grand Duchess Anastasia. Her claim is questioned since Czar Nicolas and his family were thought to have been murdered during the revolution. Enter another player, Police Inspector Schmidt. He is approached by Esther to discover why someone wants Anna dead. The trail leads to various cities as well as Berlin. The action results in held breath and a wish for all to end well. Dead bodies litter scenes that are written to successfully evoke the image of Germany at that period of time. Readers wonder why - when those that follow can easily see the death, devastation, destruction and heartbreak that war brings - does war break out again and again?

Ariana Frank writes with great historical detail and what seems to be a true feeling of the times, bringing her novel to a conclusion just as Hitler gains the power he had been striving for, for so long. We all know what that brought to the world. City of Shadows is an excellent novel with fully fleshed out characters and action that never quits.

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