Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Mystery and Romance with a Holocaust Background

Stacey Dutton, a young New York Advertising copywriter, finds an old suitcase discarded on the sidewalk behind the Apthorp, a vintage apartment building built by John Jacob Aster. The suitcase is a perfect centerpiece for the advertising campaign for Steinbach & Company, makers of high quality luggage since 1847. Sol Steinbach loves the idea of featuring a suitcase that played a part in the Holocaust because he is also a survivor of the death camps. Now the mystery starts. Who owned the luggage? What's it's story behind its travels?

The suitcase dates from the end of World War II. Two young Jewish doctors have their papers revoked and must flee Germany or face the concentration camps. A wealthy German family helps them make their escape and the suitcase travels with them.

The book toggles back and forth between the story of the advertising campaign and the fate of the young doctors. The author does this very well. There's more action in the WWII sections including the romance surrounding the young doctors. In the present day sections, the mystery of who owned the suitcase and how it got to New York predominates. Both sections are well done, but the chapters in the WWII section have more immediacy.

The characters in the WWII sections are also the most interesting. The characters in the present day section seem more like vehicles serving the story. However, they make a good counterpoint to the intensity of the WWII characters and move the story along rapidly.

I recommend this book. It's well written and will hold your interest to the last page.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley.