If you are hesitant to read this book after having read the synopsis and you like noir, you are in luck. Rich in prose with detailed research readers of Death of a Diva will be seamlessly transported to 1941 New York where young German-Jewess immigrant, Misia Safran, has just been questioned about the murder of Stella Safran, an anti-Nazi and renowned German actress and a woman Misia claims “was like a Goddess to her.” Believing Viktor Erdos, the vagrant violinist she allowed entrance through the theater side door on the night of Stella’s murder, innocent, she decides to take it upon herself to find out the truth and keep a man off death row. As the list of suspects grows, figuring out whom she can trust becomes nearly impossible.
“I knew her before anyone had heard of her. I made her into what she became.”
If you pick up this book expecting a run of the mill who-done-it, you are in for a big shock as author Brigitte Goldstein weaves an enthralling story of antisemitism, sexuality, murder, mystery, and intrigue into a hard-boiled noir style historical fiction novel complete with a solid cast of characters that will leave you in disbelief as the story unfolds. Goldstein does a superb job of keeping the historiography of the characters in check as the story progresses, which couldn’t have been an easy task as there are often upwards of five characters involved in a scene at any given time, each eventually revealing their side of the story.
Goldstein’s writing starts out almost too descriptive for this genre, but as the story progresses an even balance is found, more than making up for this minor distraction. With strong dialogue and the perfect touch of emotion, readers will easily find themselves taken through various aspects of the war, Jewish persecution, and having to leave loved ones behind to unmentionable fates, as if having personally experienced the antisemitism themselves. Goldstein’s shining talent is most notably the way she keeps readers on the edge, constantly throwing in a twist and turn, preventing readers from guessing the book’s ending before it actually happens. Just when you think you know who-done-it, you are delightfully shocked by that character’s ensuing story that you are prevented from putting this book down until the final page.
I do highly recommend at least giving this book a try even if noir isn’t your preferred genre as it has a solid storyline, characters that flow perfectly with the dialogue and is a short enough read that once you pick it up you won’t be able to put it back down!