The Scent of Secrets
by Jane Thynne
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Page Count: 448
Release Date: Sept. 15, 2015
Format: Trade Paperback
How got: free copy from GR giveaway
First attention getter: subject matter
Rich with political intrigue and authentic period details, this historical crime novel—the first of three—is perfect for fans of Jaqueline Winspear, Charles Todd, Robert Harris, and Susan Elia MacNeal. In Berlin, 1933, British actress Clara Vine finds herself dangerously involved with the British intelligence service.
Clara Vine, a half-Jewish Anglo-German, uses her unique access to the upper echelons of pre-war Nazi society to spy for her native Britain. The novel richly fuses fact and fiction with a cast of real Nazis and their British admirers, such as the Mitford sisters and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Clara Vine, through her friendship with Eva Braun, finds herself enmeshed in a plot to assassinate Hitler. The setting of pre-war Germany is a treasure trove, and the irresistibly fresh perspective of Nazi wives puts a new spin on an ever-fascinating era, fraught with glamor, political tension, tragedy, and romance.
Star Rating - 5
Engaging as heck, this book kept me enthralled from beginning to end. With a great balance of descriptive passages, fast-paced action, and peering into windows of Nazi society not often explored, this was a great introduction to this author.
The author treads a fine line between wordiness and perfect amount of detail in setting her scenes. An author can be bogged down by using too many words when describing a scene or passage; sometimes a thesaurus is NOT your best friend. Somehow, this author is able to incorporate large descriptive paragraphs without bogging the action down. Instead, the story comes to vivid life, making everything breathe for the reader.
As a mystery and spy-thriller, this book excels for the most part. I was kept guessing and on the edge of my seat throughout most of the book. I loved that the author incorporated real conspiracies against the Nazis and a realistic set-up for the murder/mystery. It made everything all the more believable for me.
Clara is a great foil against all the spy suspense and dark, mysterious meetings. She’s a great blend of vulnerable and street-smart that I enjoyed. I liked that her position in society as an actress placed her in a special position to peer into the upper echelons of Nazi society and yet still be on the fringes as not your normal German woman. The other characters were also as enjoyable; all of them adding something to the story or as a window into Nazi Germany in 1938.
Right up there with the great story and characters is the information the author chose to incorporate from the time period. I was especially enjoying seeing, in detail, the position of women in Nazi Germany: the bureaus that dealt with them, their new expected position in life, their limited opportunities, how society saw them, and how they saw the new Nazi society as well. Seeing into the cruel politics of Nazi wives was also interesting. That’s not a side often explored.
The only thing against this book I have is actually a minor one, really. This book is a volume 3 in a series; I could definitely tell. The book can stand alone as a complete work; it has a beginning, middle, and definite conclusion to the specific mystery and conspiracy. Yet, there are characters and events that are referred to or re-introduced that made me hesitate and question. That interrupted the story flow more than once. So probably best to read books 1 and 2 first, but this is still enjoyable by itself, too.
A great blend of characters, suspenseful story, and historical detail, this book holds the attention of the reader with great skill. I kept devouring page after page, eagerly waiting to see what would happen next to Clara and her crew. I will be looking out for the other books in the series so I can get the full picture of the overall story. The author has proven herself in scene-setting and storytelling.
Note: Book received for free from publisher via GoodReads FirstReads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.