Sunday, December 25, 2011

Review of The Stasi File

The Stasi File impresses on several levels: author Peter Bernhardt knows Germany, he knows opera, and he knows how to write a solid thriller.

The time is the early 1990s, and Communism is crumbling. The Berlin Wall has fallen. East Germany is a failed state with an uncertain future. Will it even remain independent, or will West Germany absorb it? Some fear a resurgent, powerful Germany, while others see reunification as crucial to the future health and stability of Europe.

The Stasi, the newly defunct East German secret police, hate and fear the prospect of reunification. Attorney Rolf Keller is sent from America to Berlin to obtain a secret Stasi file that may be critical to the West. Meanwhile, the opera singer Sylvia Mazzoni has a past that embroils her in a dangerous game of espionage, whether she likes it or not. She sings a key role in Bizet's Carmen. What is in store for her? A bright career, arrest, or death? Keller and Mazzoni have to work together, but can they trust each other? And what is the real threat?

The Stasi File reads smoothly as Bernhardt builds the tension from multiple viewpoints and brings the story to an exciting and satisfying conclusion. This is the work of a pro that deserves a wide audience.

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