Chil­dren’s

Con­spir­a­cy of Blood and Smoke

Anne Blankman
  • Review
By – December 22, 2015

The set­ting is the late 1930s in Europe. As we see Gretchen in her com­fort­able Lon­don home, there is no clue that this young woman was a favorite of Hitler when she was a child or that, although she is not Jew­ish, her boyfriend Daniel is. He is also in Lon­don hav­ing escaped from Ger­many because he open­ly opposed Hitler as a news­pa­per columnist.

Things are sta­ble for the young cou­ple until Daniel hears from his fam­i­ly in Ger­many that his young cousin has been beat­en and tak­en into cus­tody by the SS. Addi­tion­al­ly, and even more shock­ing, Daniel has been accused of mur­der­ing a young woman in Berlin and is want­ed for the crime. Daniel does not hes­i­tate to return to Ger­many to help his cousin and clear his name. The young man feels that in the process, he can also expose Hitler as a spon­sor of the Nation­al Social­ists who are mur­der­ous thugs and under­mine his grab for pow­er. Although Gretchen real­izes her return could mean her own death, she unhesi­tat­ing­ly fol­lows Daniel.

This is the back­drop for the ensu­ing plot in which the young cou­ple exhort all their per­son­al and emo­tion­al resources to achieve their goals. By the time they arrive in Ger­many, Daniel’s cousin is dead. Real­iz­ing he can no longer help his cousin, he moves for­ward to exon­er­ate his name. Brush­es with death, cap­ture by both a group of orga­nized crime and the SS, tor­ture and mul­ti­ple escapes com­prise much of the book. The plot is almost unbe­liev­able but is val­i­dat­ed by the author in an Author’s Note. It is a book of fic­tion but there are many things that are based on fact. The book gives a clear descrip­tion of what was hap­pen­ing to inno­cent peo­ple pur­sued and killed by Hitler’s régime before the world rec­og­nized the full impli­ca­tions of his pow­er. Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 14 through adult.

Marge Kaplan is a retired Eng­lish as a Sec­ond Lan­guage teacher. She is a con­sul­tant for the children’s lit­er­a­ture group for the Roseville, MN school sys­tem and is a sto­ry­teller of Jew­ish tales.

Discussion Questions