A Game of Lies (Hannah Vogel)
by Rebecca Cantrell
Cover Artist: Photo: Bettmann / Corbis
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
Forge Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765327338
Date: 05 July 2011 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
A Game of Lies takes place in Berlin during the 1936 Olympics. Journalist Hanna Vogel, under the guise of Adlehide Zinsli, is a Swiss reporter covering fencing at the Olympic Games. Hanna is also a spy and is sneaking out Nazi documents for the British with the help of her fake fiancé, Lars Lang.
A Game of Lies is part of a series of novels by Rebecca Cantrell. This is the first in the series that I have read, but background information has told me that Hanna is really a German national who met Lars, a Nazi SS Officer, when she was captured by the SS years before. Now she and Lars are a team in sneaking out the secrets. She managed to escape the SS and sneak out of Germany and adopt a son. Hannah is secretly in Germany and is very careful to avoid any contact with her former colleagues and have her spy cover blown.
The real plot of the novel starts at the Olympic opening ceremonies when an old friend of Hanna, Peter Weill, meets her at the games and attempts to pass on some secret information that Peter claimed, "Would change the course of the war." During their meeting, Peter suddenly drops dead from a heart attack and never reveals the information. Hannah is determined to find out the information that Peter died for, and sets out to find her old friends and get information. The plot radically slows at that point.
I have already hinted that A Game of Lies is not much on plot. The first half of the book is essentially background information on the last novels. Once Hannah and Lars are recognized, the action begins and the novel turns into quite a mystery.
Two unspoken points are prominent throughout the novel. One is the changes in Germany that have occurred since Hannah left. She discovers that as she meets each of her friends and sees how they are different. Some have gone further to the political right (or left, I am not sure what to call the Nazi Party), and others are much more anti-Nazi. All the friends tell Hanna that the prettiness of Berlin and the peace and tranquility that she sees are all a front for the Olympic Games, and that Hannah is not seeing the real Germany.
The other point is very ironic. Hannah often mentions the black American athletes, Jesse Owens in particular. As the star of the Olympics, he does not support the host nation’s premise of the Aryan race. The irony comes in as the black athletes are treated as equals among the world's athletes during the games whereas they face severe racial discrimination at home. The extra irony of this occurring in Nazi Germany adds to the social statement.
Hannah is also very critical of Lars. She constantly says that she does not trust him or his recently-found drinking habit. I think she does not realize how good she has it, and that she should hold him in much higher regard than she does. Both are at risk as spies, but Lars is an SS officer and is at much greater risk if he is caught. Their relationship is all part of the plot, and I will not spoil it.