Cavalcade: A Mystery Hardcover – Jan 18 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Set in 1923, Satterthwait's third mystery featuring Pinkerton agents Jane Turner and Phil Beaumont doesn't work as well as its predecessors (Escapade and Masquerade), in part because the subject matter, an investigation into a failed attempt on the life of a young Adolf Hitler, clashes with Beaumont's witty asides and the burgeoning romance between the two sleuths. The couple travel to Germany after a shot is fired at Hitler during a clandestine meeting between the Nazi leader and a prominent army figure in Berlin, but the myriad plots and counterplots, as well as the official police inquiry, only muddy the waters. Turner finds herself falling for a purported psychic, while Nazi Party figures bombard Beaumont with evidence pointing to a Communist plot. Despite the impressive history reading list Satterthwait cites in the acknowledgments, his Führer is underdeveloped and too close to a caricature. The solution comes as an anticlimactic afterthought. (Those seeking a better-plotted and more atmospheric mystery involving Nazis should seek out Darwin Teilhet's gripping The Talking Sparrow Murders.) Though Turner is less well-developed than her partner, they make an engaging pair who would be better served by a return to adventures with historical figures such as Hemingway and Houdini. (Feb. 10)
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Pinkerton agents Jane Turner and Philip Beaumont have just finished another difficult assignment abroad; now the office is sending them to Germany. Their job: to find the assassin who almost succeeded in killing Adolf Hitler when he was in Berlin. Their first surprise is a pleasant one---the Nazi big shot assigned to be their guide, Ernst (Putzi) Hanfstaengl, is a huge, jovial man who amazes his guests immediately; his English is almost without any accent! Hanfstaengl has learned American ways during his student days at Harvard. He is a talented pianist and as friendly as a puppy. Jane and Phil have no reason to think his fellow Nazis are not just as personable. This isn`t going to be so bad. Everything starts to go downhill after that, however, although a handsome Nazi almost turns Jane`s head with his attentions. Their job becomes a questionable one as the agents see more and more of the new party`s dreadful face. A woman who gives them some information is found murdered. There are other deaths, all clearly connected to the Nazi Party. By the time Jane and Phil meet Hitler, they are not only horrified and puzzled about why the Pinkerton agency accepted the job, they are very aware that they are in danger themselves. Walter Satterthwait has uncannily taken his readers to the Germany of 1923, introducing them to characters from the actual front pages of the period`s newspapers---Hanfstaengl, Rudolf Hess, and many others. As in the previous two books of this series, the crimes that Turner and Beaumont encounter are committed against a genuinely historical background. It all adds up to a suspenseful story of two likable people at risk in the treacherous atmosphere of Germany`s postwar nightmare.See all Product Description
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English agent Jane Turner and American agent Phil Beaumont travel to Berlin where they discover that only eight people, all trusted aides of Hitler, knew about the meeting. The Nazi's want to blame the communists who control part of Germany but the Pinkerton agents believe that the assassin either was one of the eight people or that one of them talked to somebody who then acted on the information. Jane and Phil spend most of their time questioning the eight men but as they get closer to the truth, the octet closes ranks and tries to kill the Pinkerton Agents who the Nazis know detest their war-mongering, hate spewing agenda.
Germany in 1923 is a country on the verge of bankruptcy with beggars living on the streets and men, women and youngsters selling their bodies to get a meal. Walter Satterthwait shows why it was so easy for Hitler to rise to power because he gave the people hope that if they band together and take care of the Bolsheviks and the Jewish "Problems", Germany can because a powerful country again. CAVALCADE is an investigate thriller that shows how hate can fester under certain conditions allow atrocities to occur. This is a very exciting and intriguing reading experience.
Satterthwait once again mixes characters from history with ones of his own and it was again fun for me to try to guess who was real and who was not. Readers have to remember that the mystery is set in the 1920's, well before the later atrocities that we are aware of but not Phil and Jane.
The two Pinkertons travel together to Frankfurt, Berlin, Beyreuth, and Munich chasing leads in their case. When they detour to Beyreuth, the home of the Richard Wagner family, they meet Wagner's aged second wife and widow, the "charming" Cosima, and the rest of the Wagner clan. Besides the Wagners and the Nazis, Satterthwait introduces readers to some everyday people of the times just trying to survive in an ever scary world. As you can imagine, the detectives' interactions with some of the Nazis are not so pleasant, but Jane manages a romance with one while Phil visits the local beer halls with another, both trying to follow the clues.
A cavalcade is defined as a dramatic sequence or procession, or a series, and Phil and Jane survive the cavalcade of characters and events in a most interesting time and place in history. Cavalcade, as were Escapade and Masquerade, is another historical mystery that I could not put down.