The Girl from Berlin: A Novel

St. Martin's Press  2018


When Liam Taggart, an investigator, and his wife, attorney Catherine Lockhart, are invited to dinner by the owner of their favorite Italian restaurant, they are offered a free trip to Tuscany to help the owner’s aging aunt Gabi who is being evicted from her vineyard by a large corporation. The corporation supposedly holds the title to the land, but Gabi knows that it is hers. Upon their arrival in Tuscany, she tells Catherine and Liam to read a memoir by a woman named Ada Baumgarten, a German violinist forced to flee Berlin and settle in Bologna, Italy when the Nazis took power. The book chapters alternate between Ada’s story and Catherine and Liam’s journey through the Italian legal system as they try to trace the chain of the land title.

From Ada, readers get a vivid description of the fate of Italy’s Jewish community during World War II and learn about Ada’s life as a German Jew in exile. Balson places real historical figures such as conductor Wilhelm Fürtwängler and Reinhard Heydrich in the story, providing context as the events unfold. As Catherine and Liam discover, Ada has a direct link to Gabi and her vineyard, but someone connected to the corporation has taken extreme measures to hide it. Liam, Catherine, and the young Italian lawyer who assists them must sort through mountains of paperwork to uncover the malevolent circumstances affecting Gabi’s land.

Murder, deception, and greed are involved, but this compelling story also offers the beauty of music and love, and the possibility of redemption.

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