The Second Son
By Jonathan Rabb
(Sarah Crichton Books, Hardcover, 9780374299132, 304pp.)
Publication Date: February 15, 2011
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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An Intriguing Historical Thriller Set in the Barcelona of the Spanish Civil War On the eve of Hitler’s Olympics, Chief Inspector Nikolai Hoffner, a half Jew, has been forced out of the Kriminalpolizei. Luckily, Hoffner’s focus is elsewhere. His son Georg is missing in Spain, swept up in the sudden outbreak of the civil war. He has already lost Sascha, his elder son, who is fully entrenched in the Nazi regime. But Georg is not what he appears to be, and when Hoffner discovers this, he is determined to save the one son he can. The Second Son is the eagerly awaited final installment in Jonathan Rabb’s Berlin trilogy, set between the two world wars. In Harper’s Magazine, John Leonard called the first, Rosa, “a ghostly noir that could have been conspired at by Raymond Chandler and André Malraux.” The second, Shadow and Light (2009), garnered rave reviews—in The Washington Post, Wendy Smith praised its “atmosphere” and “brilliantly plotted narrative.” Now, nearly ten years after the events of Shadow and Light, Hoffner finds himself tossed into the chaos that is Spain— where he quickly meets anarchists, Soviet and British secret agents, and a female doctor called Mila Pera—as he follows a trail of clues left by Georg. In the spirit of Joseph Kanon and Alan Furst—whose Foreign Correspondent also took place in the mountains of Spain—Rabb delivers another atmospheric work, rich with his storytelling talent and historical expertise.
Jonathan Rabb is the author of four previous novels: Shadow and Light, Rosa, The Overseer, and The Book of Q. He lives in Savannah, Georgia, with his wife and twin children.
“The Second Son is an unusual blend of hard-boiled detective novel and love story . . . the narrative never flags. It proves that first-rate detectives are like good lovers and good novelists: keenly observant, intuitive and tough as nails.” —Tara McKelvey, The New York Times Book Review
“Rabb works wonders, juggling Nazi sympathizers and anarchists and guilty bystanders and innocent warriors with an alacrity few in his generation can maintain . . . Inspector Hoffner flies off into the oncoming darkness, having accomplished Rabb’s mission, of carrying to completion this engrossing trilogy on his strong shoulders.” —Alan Cheuse, The Dallas Morning News
“A powerful, shocking and moving novel . . . Rabb is an accomplished storyteller as well as a superb stylist, and the conclusion of his trilogy is at once affecting and effective in its portrayal of the run-up to a global nightmare.” —Jay Strafford, The Richmond Times-Dispatch
“The chaos of the war provides an evocative backdrop for this unlikely, noir-tinged story of a cynical father chasing after his idealistic son . . . This is Alan Furst territory, but it will also resonate for readers of European antiwar fiction, from All Quiet on the Western Front to The Good Soldier Schweik.” —Bill Ott, Booklist (starred review)
“Gripping . . . Fans of Alan Furst and Philip Kerr will be rewarded.” —Publishers Weekly
“An exhilarating bittersweet thriller that brings to life Spain during the violent civil war.” —Harriet Klausner, Genre Go Round
“Questions of political intrigue are all handled with expertise. The story’s tempo builds and crescendos with a surprising denouement that will leave readers satisfied. Fans of Alan Furst, Philip Kerr, and Olen Steinhauer will feel very much at home with Rabb’s The Second Son, and readers of the Spanish Civil War will nod their heads in approval of how well Rabb researched this very important time in history when the world was at the cusp of a long and tragic war.” —Rebeca Schiller, “Alvah’s Books”
“Rabb writes with the authority that comes from sure-handed research . . . [his] focus on history allows him to explore the tension between personal lives and the sweep of public events, arguably the novel’s greatest strength.” —Tom Glenn, The Washington Independent Review of Books
“This intense tale of a father seeking his two lost sons but finding an uncommonly resilient woman takes place in the mounting violence of Europe in July–August 1936. Just offstage are events we thought we knew well: the Berlin Olympics and the revolt of the generals that is plunging Spain into civil war. With Jonathan Rabb’s characters, we relive these events at street level, in gritty and authentic detail.” —Robert O. Paxton, author of The Anatomy of Fascism and Vichy France