I have a dirty little secret that I suppose I’m confessing to the world: I like booksellers more than librarians.
Librarians are usually concerned primarily with the administration of their office. Understandably so! I’d just as soon know what I’m looking for in a library so I don’t have to inquire for a librarian’s help. Usually, if I’m going to one, it’s because I want to get a specific something. Rarely do I browse in the library.
Bookstores, as I’ve whittled down my wishlist over the years, require more browsing. What do I feel like investing my money on? This is why I trust booksellers more. They have a need to peddle their wares. And most book buyers know the difference between being sold to and being hustled.
I probably would have never considered this series had a bookseller not clued me into it. Lamenting Phillip Kerr’s death and thus the end of the Bernie Gunther series, the seller mentioned this one, which not only takes place in similar circumstances to the Gunther series (Nazi Germany) but was written by Kerr’s wife himself.
Say no more!
I finally got to it this week and while Jane Thynne is obviously a different writer than her late husband, she does a great job of creating the atmosphere and tension of immediate pre-war Europe. I liked Clara, the lead character, and while some of the dialogue was too on the nose (I really didn’t need lines about “Chamberlain” and “appeasement”), I was drawn into both the spy and mystery aspects of this loaded but interesting story. Thynne is a sensual writer who uses taste and smell to make the story feel alive. There are some cliches and stumbling blocks but by and large, she’s created an interesting story with which to view the lens of the Hell that was Nazi Germany, especially through the eyes of women.
So yeah, trust your booksellers.