A Game of Lies by Rebecca Cantrell

A Game of Lies by Rebecca Cantrell

In preparation for the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the Nazis have rid the streets of anti-Semitic material and other propaganda, and present a peace-seeking face to the world. Journalist and part-time spy for the British, Hannah Vogel, shudders to think of what lies under the temporary coat of gloss.

Posing as travel reporter Adelheid Zinsli and lover of SS officer Lars Lang, Hannah has been collecting Nazi secrets from Lang and smuggling them back to Switzerland. Wanted by the SS, her travel in and out of Germany has always been fraught with danger, but this trip is especially treacherous.

Surrounded by former colleagues who could identify her, Hannah tries to keep a low profile while reporting on the Games as Adelheid. Her relationship with Lang gets more complicated as he sinks into alcoholism; the whispers she hears about his work in the SS give her chills. Whose side is he on?

Continuing my attempts in making inroads into a back catalogue of books I’ve acquired over the last year and a half – my to be read bookshelf for want of a better description – I picked up Rebecca Cantrell’s A Game of Lies set in Nazi Germany in 1936 a couple of days ago and began reading. Originally published in July by Forge Books (The United States), what book could be more prevalent in an Olympic year than this? The book just begs to be read with an evocative book jacket that screams for attention and a story that is so apt for 2012, having read it I’m quite glad I left it until now to read!

The third in the Hannah Vogel series, A Game of Lies is a wonderful book that effortlessly captures the identity of Nazi Germany and a city torn by a regime that is starting to suck the very life out of its inhabitants. Hitler and his cronies – for want of a better word – are in total command of Germany and the Aryan ideals are beginning to take control throughout. From the moment Hannah steps inside the stadium for the opening ceremony of the 1936 Olympics I was utterly captivated, charmed even, in a city I knew little of and count my blessings that I wasn’t part of its history. Segregation is rife and although crime rates are lower under Hitler, the streets are certainly not a safe place – day or night.

One of the things I noticed when reading A Game of Lies was that this isn’t a fast read, purposely so, I relished the storyline, gladly taking my time to gorge on a narrative that is beautifully written and incredibly atmospheric, it is meant to be savoured and savour it I did. The story has a pace all of its very own with Hannah Vogel taking the lead role, guiding the reader through the streets of Berlin as she attempts to make sense of the murder of a friend and continue to spy for the British. On more than one occasion I found myself closing my eyes and imagined walking the forbidden streets of the Jewish sector, smelling the alcohol and cigarette smoke that hung in the air and the sights and sounds of a bustling city in the throes of Olympic competition, athlete Jesse Owens doing his best to spoil the party with four gold medals.

Although the third in the Vogel series, Cantrell has done an excellent job in capturing her past exploits, educating those readers – myself included – who are new to our heroine. There is no doubt, and I discovered this half way through, that you would benefit from reading the series in order to get the most out of the book but A Game of Lies certainly works as a standalone given the care and attention the author applies to this adventure. Snippets of her past life keep cropping up and each time they did it made me want to know more about her life, her family and what had led her to leave Germany and live in Switzerland.

My only disappointment with the book was with the ending – I’m being hyper critical here – and although it ends with closure and has a fitting conclusion I wanted to find out what happens next!  I didn’t want the book to end so abruptly, but maybe that’s the power of a good writer – always leave your audience wanting more and she certainly did that.

Characterisation is powerful, what do you expect when a strong willed and resolute female commands attention in whatever she does? We follow her adventure through her own eyes and she certainly doesn’t have it easy in this tale! Battered and bruised throughout she does her best to avoid capture while attempting to report on the exploits of the Swiss fencing team. As leading ladies go, Hannah Vogel is as strong willed and powerful as they come, forget James Bond, Vogel is one enigmatic and resourceful woman.

If A Game of Lies was a competitor in the London Olympics the book would be holding its own in the 1500 and 5000 metre events, a well-paced book that relies on stamina and occasional bursts of speed to beat off all rivals. A terrific read and utterly compelling, what more could you wish for in an Olympic year.

Published by Forge Books, A Game of Lies is available in the US and the UK in Hardback formats.

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1 Response » to “A Game of Lies by Rebecca Cantrell – Book Review”

  1. Nikki-ann says:

    Ah, but the author wants to leave you wanting to know what happens next! I don’t mind that so much when I’ve got the next book already, but it’s just such a tease when you’ve got to wait for the next release! :D

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