by Alexander, V. S.

Amid the turbulence of World War II, a young German woman finds a precarious haven closer to the source of danger than she ever imagined-one that will propel her through the extremes of privilege and terror under Hitler's dictatorship. Original.

V.S. Alexander is an ardent student of history with a strong interest in music and the visual arts. Some of V.S.’s writing influences include Shirley Jackson, Oscar Wilde, Daphne du Maurier, or any work by the exquisite Brontë sisters. V.S. lives in Florida and is at work on a third historical novel for Kensington.

In the chaos of early 1940s Germany, Magda Ritter is sent from her family's home in Berlin to live with her aunt and uncle in Berchtesgaden. Determined to bring in a little money, Magda interviews at the local government office and is quickly offered a mysterious position. Magda arrives at the secluded mountain retreat of Adolf Hitler and other high-ranking SS officers. Magda is to become one of Hitler's tasters, looking for the sights and smells of deadly poisons before sampling his daily meals. The job is nerve-jangling, but Magda's tireless work does not go unnoticed. Alexander tells the thrilling stories of Magda's rise through the upper echelon of Nazi loyalists, the intrigue and rumors swirling around the German war effort, and the downfall of the party, in 1945. He does not glorify Hitler and the horrors of the Nazis but marries history and fiction in an attempt to humanize the citizens swept up in the turbulence of the times. This haunting and engrossing novel will appeal to fans of Anthony Doerr and Kristin Hannah. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

A young German woman is recruited for an unusual position on Hitler's staff.In 1943, alarmed by increasing Allied air raids on Berlin, Magda Ritter's parents send her to Berchtesgaden, a remote Bavarian Alpine town. When she arrives, Magda's uncle Willy, a staunch Nazi, wangles her a position at The Berghof, Adolf Hitler's nearby mountain citadel. After a grueling interview process, during which Magda must downplay her lack of Nazi sympathies, she is hired, but she's startled to learn that her duties will involve tasting Hitler's meals to ensure that he's not being poisoned. Her training includes learning to recognize the characteristics of various poisons, including the almond scent of cyanide. She falls in love with Karl, a handsome SS officer, who, she learns with mixed relief and alarm, is plotting against Hitler. Karl shows her photographic proof of Nazi crimes, of which Magda, like most ordinary Germans, or so she believes, was completely unaware. Magda's roommate, Ursu la, is also part of the resistance, and, when a poisoning plot against Hitler goes awry, Ursula drinks the cyanide-laced tea intended for the Führer. Karl and Magda escape suspicion. In fact, the Führer takes a special interest in the young couple, whom he views as ideal Aryan breeding stock. Their nuptials are hosted by Hitler and his mistress, Eva Braun, and shortly thereafter, the newlyweds are transferred to Wolf's Lair, Hitler's forest hideout. As war rages on and defeat appears imminent, Magda's fate will depend on the success of her continuing masquerade as a loyal Hitler retainer. For such a fraught story, the pacing is curiously episodic and static. Magda's hatred of Hitler—who on his occasional appearances is characterized as, at worst, self-deluded—is less than convincing, particularly while she enjoys the privileges her proximity to him confers. The last days of the Reich have never seemed so quotidian. Copyright Kirkus 2017 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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