Murder On Insel Poel
by D-L Nelson
Review by Mel Jacob
Five Star Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781432828158
Date: 19 March 2014 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
This is the fifth Third Culture Kid Mystery by D-L Nelson. Her series focuses on current murders and stories of the past. Like the preceding novels, Murder on Insel Poel features Annie Young, a freelance translator, who has lived in France, Switzerland, and the U.S. and is thus a Third Culture Kid. When Annie arrives at the museum in Kirchdorf on the island of Insel Poel to translate exhibit captions into foreign languages, she has no idea that the deaths of two Asian women will again set her on the trail of a vicious murderer and place her own life in danger.
The novel alternates between Annie in the present and several people from the World War II era. One pair is a vicar's daughter, Martha Willson, and her eventual beau, Gordon Tibbits, a pilot in the RAF. A third, Hilke Fulmar, is a young German woman. The narrative shifts between the people from the World War II period as the war drags on, seemingly without end.
Besides, the murders, and unresponsive policeman, Annie also becomes involved in the troubles of Greta, a young teen, and her mother Renate. Annie likes to take walks along the sea, and on one of these, she discovers the body of a young Asian woman washed ashore. She had been shot. Annie notifies the police and officers come from Lubeck to investigate.
The lead policeman doesn't welcome Annie's suggestions and dismisses her, but that doesn't stop Annie. Her fiancÚ tries to convince her to leave matters with the police, but she is unimpressed with their efforts. Then, she finds a second body, and continues her own investigation.
In World War II Germany, Hilke's father, fearing for himself and his job, denounces his wife, and she is arrested. Hilke is shocked to learn her great-grandfather was Jewish, but her grandfather converted to Christianity. She soon loses her fiancÚ and her job because of her mother's background. Luckily, her employer helps her and sends her north to the farm of an old relative, but danger still hovers over her.
Martha, the vicar's daughter, has no social life because her father won't allow it. She meets Gordon through a friend. He flies bomber missions, but hates the death of innocents. They fall in love and hope to marry despite the vicar.
Nelson ties the threads of these lives together through the museum and Annie as she investigates the island's history and includes information on the Allied bombing of the Cap Arcona loaded with prisoners. The characters and their stories are interesting and provide insights into World War II and the effects on individual lives. In some ways, the mystery is secondary.