by Roxann Hill (Author), Paul Wagle (Translator)
Working in an exclusive, high end rehab clinic in Germany, ex con Alicia Petersen does her job well enough to get through the day. Battered by life, she=s generally not one for conversation, escaping her dreary existence through daydreams of her childhood. These dreams and the friendship of Miriam Morgenroth, an elderly patient, are all that keep her going.
One day, Miriam disappears without a trace. But patients do walk away from rehab time and again, so no one suspects foul playCno one except Alicia. Determined to conduct her own search, she asks for help from a chemo ravaged police detective, Chris Winkler, who jumps at a chance to put his dormant expertise to use in the investigation.
From the Bavarian Alps to the northern German Coast, the two follow a bloody trail into a world of betrayal, revenge, and murder, with motives that reach far back into an appalling past. As Alicia and Chris grow closer, they soon discover that Miriam had many secretsCthe sort that threaten the lives of those who attempt to bring them to light.
Will they be able to uncover the truth before the past catches up with them?
Alicia Petersen was raised on a remote Halligen off the coast of Germany where sea lavender grows in a delicate blue color. In spite of her loving grandmother, Alicia ended up going wild and getting into trouble as a teen. Now she is alone working as an aide in a high end German rehab clinic. She takes a personal interest in some of the patients, unlike other employees. Alicia makes friends with Miriam, an elderly woman, as she shows her kindness and they share a love of reading.
Alicia also challenges Chris, a cop who is trying to recoup from a bout of cancer and the resulting chemo treatments. Chris is close to checking out until Alicia comes to him with questions that he is trained to answer. Miriam has gone missing and Alicia is the only person who thinks there has been foul play instead of a confused patient walking out of the facility.
Alicia met Miriam’s ‘nephew’, Georg, who, as Miriam’s business partner, has been has been handling their banking business. He reveals business enemies who sound like promising suspects. There is also a graduate student who recently interviewed Miriam. Georg agrees to support Alicia as she looks for Miriam and Chris agrees to help with the investigation as it diverts his attention from his medical issues.
Alicia and Chris begin an unofficial investigation which leads them to two entwined trails. One trail is a Jewish family escaping Nazi Germany with rumors of diamonds. The other trail leads to recently dead persons of interest. As they diligently pursue the diamond mystery Chris and Alicia are on a collision course with the hit team who is eliminating the witnesses and information.
This has wonderfully real and flawed characters in Alicia and Chris. Alicia’s friendships with Miriam and Chris are nicely developed with dynamics that blend the current situation with Alicia’s past and memories. The mystery is well plotted with multiple suspects.
The assassins are truly sick and brutal. I have to admit that this trio made me think of Clockwork Orange which I found sick and brutal. This would not be a book for anyone of great sensitivity to violence. On the other hand, when away from the violence, the prose of this book is quite lovely. I was pulled in by the writing from the very beginning – gripping both in alternating scenes of alarming violence and remarkable beauty.
The Nazi escape added historical interest and the romantic element helps soften the intensity of the violence. I would like to read more writing by Ms. Hill. I highly recommend this for the high quality of prose writing and effective mystery plot.
I picked this up from NetGalley. This is part of my NetGalley Challenge.