Monday, 26 January 2015

Death Of A Diva - an intriguing spin on murder-mystery noire

Stella Berger, revered star of stage and screen in Germany, is just completing a successful run on Broadway. She fled to America as the Nazi's tightened their genocidal grip on Europe. She is found strangled by a violin string in her dressing room. The prime suspect is an emigrant violin-playing street musician. What follows, however, is more twists than on a 1960's London dance floor. Narrated by another Jewish emigrant, Misha Safron, she is working in the theatre at the time and it was she, taking pity on the man, who let the street musician into the theatre. Because of this, she is initially accused of complicity in the murder. She is easy to relate to, very likeable, and she is taken on a strange journey with Anti-Semitism lurking around every corner.

Worthy in its own right as classic 1930's murder-mystery noire, author, Brigitte Goldstein, brilliantly weaves into the tale, the experience of being Jewish, with a beleaguered history, never just accepted and allowed to be, no matter the continent they are citizen of.

I was taken on a journey through a world where nothing is what it at first appears. Misia Safran and the street musician and other characters vividly describe Jewish life in Germany and Eastern Europe. We are treated to their cultural and diverse lifestyles, the bustling and heady Jewish communities that existed in all forms of the arts – theatre, cabaret, movies. Many of them thrive until brutal Nazi Anti-Semitism rears its ugly head. Stella Berger had always been an outspoken adversary of the Nazis right up to her untimely death. The history of this era is impeccably researched and integral to the plot.

This is an entrancing piece of work, that I thoroughly enjoyed. If you like murder-mysteries with astonishing twists then this book is for you based on that preference alone. But it is also an antidote to generations of Anti-Semitism that continues to this day. You meet regular Jews – lovable, complex, frustrating, know, just like any race. History is corroded by persecution and genocide inflicted by one race on another. This book sets the record straight on Jewishness it redresses the balance of all the perverse ideas out there about racial, religious, cultural superiority.

Highly enjoyable read. Please check out for yourself.  

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