Vanished in Berlin ISBN: 9781507669709, Libertine Press (2015) by Gry Finsnes.
Plot: Norway has been invaded by Nazi Germany. Young Norwegian Ellen Langno whose studies in Vienna have brought her almost to concert ready status is enamored of young composer/violinist German citizen Fredrick Koll who had come to Norway to be with her. He has disappeared. Even though the countries are at war, Ellen obtains permission to return to Vienna to finish her studies with her Jewish teacher and simultaneously to attempt to ascertain what has happened to Frederick. She becomes reacquainted with Paul, a part-time member of the old group of art students that ‘hung out together’. He was a businessman but with a quite commendable sketching ability and now was a Nazi officer who offers to help her. Eventually, he finds a list detailing that her love had been drafted into the Navy and was a member of the crew of a submarine that had been sunk. Numerous complications ensue because she now must make numerous decisions. She believes that she may be pregnant with Fredrick’s child; she must see his mother in Berlin, and Paul proposes marriage. Before and during these various happenings, the story resorts to numerous flashbacks of the time before her return to Vienna when Fredrick had followed her back to Norway. Included are the many required moves and subterfuge strategies employed to avoid the invasion forces so as not to be forced into the army to fight the Norwegians and simultaneously problems with her family and friends who were distrustful of him because of his nationality. Eventually, the story proceeds to a point where she asks Paul for time to recover from her loss and the story moves on in a rapidly developing manner to a conclusion that provides an ideal base for the second book in the series.
Discussion: The author states “I have done my best to keep to the facts of the Second World War …” and “The plot is entirely fictive, but all of the historical dates and background of the war are correct as far as I know. Many of the events which the main characters go through actually happened during the siege and occupation of Norway.” She also points “…to a few of the more unusual facts and explain.” Included in the list was the interesting: “The Germans gave crystal meth to fighting soldiers.” This is the third of this author’s books read by this reviewer and from this perspective it perhaps may best be described by paraphrasing part of my remarks about the earlier read of the author’s Stones Don’t Speak. Ellen is an attractive, self-centered woman accustomed to attention (here as a performer) being thrust into a totally unfamiliar and distasteful situation to which she has little desire or inclination to attempt to adjust until the situation leaves little alternative, and then her reaction may not always be the wisest. Nor is that of her lover who is sadly lost in the situation. The conclusion or summary, however, is identical.
Summary: The story provides an appealing tale centered on a particularly disturbing time and place in history and in a location seldom visited by authors.
4* Engaging, somewhat suspenseful tale of a time/place seldom recalled.
Something ISBN: 9780988131231, Special Revised Edition of Book One of the Wisteria Series. A “new adult: horror: dark fantasy: mystery in e-book by Shelby Lamb.
Plot: “Audrey draped her arms around a bloke’s shoulders, inhaling his cigarette stained breath. He had zits like hers, but the facial structure was good and she was hot. “She knew it was gross, but if she was going to stop thinking about Nathan for one second, she’d have to take extreme measures.” Neither had a condom but they were at it with full enthusiasm until they heard steps approaching. He zipped up just in time and “Yanking her dress down, Audrey ran, forgetting her panties tossed aside on the ground.” She returned to the more than century-old three story building that had seen far better days to go “shuffling past the lounge where some brain-dead catatonics sat, gazing at the television. Some were drooling all over the couch again. “Ms. Harris will be upset!” yelled a Down syndrome girl before clapping her hands over her mouth to giggle. Aubrey yawned, marching up the staircase that led to the second floor.” Here she transferred some clothes to the dryer, and her work finished, slipped into her bedroom where she had stashed her jar of stolen pills. Not enough yet and how was she going to go on? Where were her best friend Adelaide Pierri of even Billi Porter? She desperately missed Nathan Silva. She then began to read the unusual book she had discovered in a used book store. Sleepy after a while, she slept only to suffer a horrible, weird dream/awake experience. Next, the reader is introduced to Bella Broadhurst getting ready to party HARD for her birthday She has begun by starting to drink heavily and waltzing around completely nude with her friends. From this point on the story follows a convoluted path involving a group of students at the Pentecostal Boarding School, a private school and additional assorted other students and individuals of both sexes who are determined to ‘live life to its fullest’ with and by any means possible. Most are nihilists. All participate in drunken escapades, indiscriminate sexual activity and many indulge in self-mutilation. A reason is provided for Aubrey’s activity in that she came from a home where mother and father constantly fought. Her very young mother constantly poked her sister with needles which she mentioned to a girlfriend. From there an abuse investigation deposited the parents in jail, her older sister in a home for troubled teenagers and 12-year-old Aubrey was taken in by a “sweet old lady”, Ms. Harris, the owner/manager of the above described ‘home’. Here the child was put to work helping her when she was not required to be at the local school. From here the story continues its meandering pathway seemingly involving in a deadly manner anyone in anyway associated with the book that caused Aubrey’s horrid dream/awake episode, although some of the disastrous occurrences simply could result from the individuals’ manner of existence. Eventually and ultimately the story arrives at the beginning of the next volume in the series.
Discussion: The author states at the very beginning of the book: “Aubrey finds a book that propels her and her peers into horror and madness. Nihilism, self-harm, explicit scenes. You now enter at your own discretion.” Apropos this statement, the book does provide an abundant description of activity on the ‘seamier’ side of life, which does seem to exist in even more abundance among the youth of today for whatever reason one wishes to accept. Thus, in truth, there is little this reviewer can offer. If the reader’s inclination is to enjoy or be attracted to this activity in this environment this book definitely is for you. If one enjoys stories further removed from these somewhat decadent activities often performed in less than pleasant, even ultra-dark settings, they must be searched for elsewhere.
Conclusion: A dark tale of horror/fantasy with nihilistic self-indulgent behavior often performed in repugnant settings
3* Dichotomous; 4* for certain, perhaps unusual mind-set; 2* or less for others.