Friday, July 29, 2011

"A Game of Lies"

Award-winning author Rebecca Cantrell majored in German, Creative Writing, and History at the Freie Universitaet of Berlin and Carnegie Mellon University. Her Hannah Vogel mystery series set in Berlin in the 1930s includes A Trace of Smoke and A Night of Long Knives.

Cantrell applied the Page 69 Test to A Game of Lies, the third Hannah Vogel book, and reported the following:
A Game of Lies is set during the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where, just for the duration of the Olympics, the Nazis are pretending that Berlin is not the cruel and oppressive city they have made it. When Hannah takes a quick trip there to cover the Games and smuggle out secret documents, she is quickly confronted with the death of a close friend and fellow journalist. She sets out to reveal the story he died for.

Page 69 falls on a scene where Hannah Vogel meets her former fiancé, Paul Keller, and his wife. The Kellers are both Jews trapped in Hitler’s Germany, and the scene shows how everyone’s relationships have changed because of their political situation. That’s definitely a major theme in A Game of Lies, so I’m counting it as very representative. What do you think?

Here is page 69 of A Game of Lies:
“Hannah, this is Miriam, my wife.”

“Best wishes on your marriage.” I held out my hand for Miriam to shake. She did not take it. I glanced at Paul, who shrugged. He did not shake my hand either. I lowered it. Not quite the welcome our almost twenty years of friendship had led me to expect.

We entered the living room. Sarah’s aubergine horse hair sofa still stood next to the graceful coffee table, and her lace curtains hung in the windows, but nothing else was the same. Dark rectangles on the walls showed where her pictures had once hung, among them one of myself and my murdered brother, Ernst. Her personal things were gone. Shipped to her, or sold?

I walked behind the sofa and slid my hand across the smooth fabric, remembering hours spent here laughing with Sarah and Paul.

Miriam asked Paul a quick, angry question in a Slavic language.

Polish? What ever the language, it sounded like a challenge.

“Would you be more comfortable in the kitchen?” A note of defiance peppered his words. What waited in the kitchen?

“What ever you prefer,” I said.

Miriam glowered. I was not to feel comfortable in any room in this apartment; that was clear.

Paul led us to the kitchen. Miriam took care to keep herself between Paul and me, as if to protect him.

Ceramic crunched under my shoe when I stepped across the threshold.

Shards of broken crockery littered the floor. Someone had thrown a dish against the wall. I guessed it had once been a plate.

I glanced at Paul. He shook his head fractionally. I stepped around fragments and sat at the table. He could keep his secrets. I certainly would keep mine.

I took in the well- scrubbed surfaces. Of that, Sarah would approve.

A knife rested on a wooden board next to a loaf of bread.

“I have not been here in ages,” I said, reminded of my last visit.

Perhaps it was even the same knife. “Not since—”

“Since you almost skewered me?” Paul asked. In 1931, before I left Germany, Anton and I had been hiding in this apartment after someone ransacked mine. When Paul stopped by unannounced, I nearly stabbed him.
As to the question about whether readers would be inclined to read on, I like to hope that readers can open the book at any page and be inclined to read on. It’s part of the naïve philosophy of life that led me to be an author.
Learn more about the book and author at Rebecca Cantrell's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: A Trace of Smoke.

My Book, The Movie: A Trace of Smoke.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue