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Extended Audio Sample Shadow and Light: A Novel, by Jonathan Rabb Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (208 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jonathan Rabb Narrator: Simon Prebble Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Berlin, between the two world wars. When an executive at the renowned Ufa film studios is found dead floating in his office bathtub, it falls to Nikolai Hoffner, a chief inspector in the Kriminalpolizei, to investigate. With the help of Fritz Lang (the German director) and Alby Pimm (leader of the most powerful crime syndicate in Berlin), Hoffner finds his case taking him beyond the world of film and into the far more treacherous landscape of Berlin’s sex and drug trade, the rise of Hitler’s Brownshirts (the SA), and the even more astonishing attempts by onetime monarchists to rearm a post-Versailles Germany.

Being swept up in the case are Hoffner’s new lover, an American talent agent for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and his two sons: Georg, who has dropped out of school to work at Ufa, and Sascha, his angry, older son, who, unknown to his father, has become fully entrenched in the new German Workers Party as the aide to its Berlin leader, Joseph Goebbels.

Shadow and Light is brilliant and atmospheric, hard to put down or shake off. Like Joseph Kanon or Alan Furst, Rabb magically fuses a smart, energetic narrative with layers of fascinating, vividly documented history. The result is a stunning historical thriller, created by a writer to celebrate—and contend with.

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Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Naomi | 2/16/2014

    " This writer is so enigmatic that it is not really that enjoyable to figure out what he is alluding to. His stories would be very intriguing except for that. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Joy | 2/12/2014

    " I realize a mystery needs plot twists and mcguffins, but this one is inscrutable. Furthermore, in this book, the policeman doesn't seem to be working with or for the Kriminalpoliz. He has no partner or supervisor and appears to be more of a private investigator except for one visit to his office near the end of the book. All the plot twists did not add up to one good mystery but rather a confusing snarl. Even after I read the explanation given by Herr Hugenberg,the apparent deus ex machina, I did not understand the why of all the events. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by David Minor | 2/3/2014

    " Jonathan Rabb's novel "Shadow and Light" is a detective mystery set within the realm of WWII-era film industry of Berlin. This is notable because it makes good use of heightened realism by using real life people as characters within his story. This is a good way of establishing the world this is set in, and makes the mystery found within even more intriguing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Trilby | 1/31/2014

    " I started this with some trepidation after my encounter with Rabb's "The Book of Q." This historical novel, however, turned out to be a tightly plotted, atmospheric mystery. The film industry, sex trade(straight and gay), criminal underworld, and of course Nazis all play a role in this novel of 1920s Berlin. The protagonist, Kriminal-Oberkommisar Nikolai Hoffner, wends his way through a labyrinthine set of leads as he investigates the suspicious death of a German film studio executive. Rabb seamlessly interweaves the story of Hoffner's investigation with historical fact. For example, half-Jewish Fritz Lang is shown to have a strained relationship with his bland-blond aristocratic Nazi wife, an accurate depiction. The vast majority of the story is told via dialogue, of which Rabb is a master. In this book Rabb has largely avoided long stretches of snore-inducing background material, as he did in "Q." Instead, the action is packed within a period of only five days, with Hoffner reeling from lead to lead, trying to figure out which are false, and which characters are playing him. The scenes with his two estranged sons are either filled with tension or sadness. Hoffner has no idea how to reconnect with either boy, and his efforts are heartbreaking to see. Similarly, he has difficulty showing affection towards women and frequently prefers walking out rather than engaging emotionally. Rabb does a fine job of sketching the dark,ominous world of post-WW I Berlin, where criminals, fascists, communists, and ruthless business people struggled for control of the city, and no one seemed to care who got stomped on, sometimes literally. "

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About the Author
Author Jonathan Rabb

Jonathan Rabb is the author of the novels Rosa, The Overseer, and The Book of Q. He lives with his wife, Andra, and two children in New York.