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Review: A Death in Berlin – David C. Dawson

A Death in Berlin - David C. Dawson - Simon Sampson Mysteries

Genre: Mystery

LGBTQ+ Category: Gay

Reviewer: Maryann

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About The Book

Berlin 1933: When the parties stop…the dying begins

The city that’s been a beacon of liberation during the 1920s is about to become a city of deadly oppression. BBC foreign correspondent Simon Sampson risks his life in a bid to save thousands of gay men from the growing Nazi threat.

This is the second in the Simon Sampson mystery series. The first, A Death in Bloomsbury, was hailed as ‘a good old-fashioned John Buchan-esque mystery reworked for the twenty-first century’.

Simon moves to Berlin where he meets British author Christopher Isherwood and his lover Heinz. He’s also reunited with his banter-partner Florence Miles, better known to her friends as Bill. She’s recruited him into the British intelligence services and he’s got the task of hunting down communist spies.

But when Simon is ordered to spy on an old college friend, his loyalties are brought into question. Who are his real enemies? And how much can he trust his masters?

The Review

Simon is in Berlin experimenting for the BBC as the first foreign correspondent.  He’s also accepted Florence “Bill” Miles’ offer to work for the Secret Intelligence Service.  

Berlin is the center of attention, as Hitler is getting ready to become Chancellor and the streets of Germany are overrun with Nazis – Strumabteilung and SA Brownshirts.

No matter how hard Simon works at both of his jobs, he gets grief from both sides – his news editor at the BBC, Antony Sonning, and Bill. He is blamed for everything that goes wrong.   

Trouble starts when Simon meets with a friend, writer Christopher Isherwood, and his boyfriend Heinz at the Eldorado Club. The club is raided by the police, and Simon finds himself on the run. Once in the clear, he heads back to the club to help Herr Topf, who he only had phone contact with. But on his way, he hears a disturbance and sees a group of Strumabteilungs beating up a man. Once the police distract the Strumabteilung, Simon approaches the beaten man.  

He meets Kurt Junger, someone from his past, who was attending Dr Mangus Hirschfelds, Sexual Institute. Kurt is a gay, jew who is an activist and a communist and makes Simon aware of the injustices that are going on in Berlin.

Simon also finds himself on another assignment from Bill. He needs to contact Justin Frobisher, a liberal Member of Parliament from the West of England. Frobisher is concerned that if Hitler becomes chancellor, Germany’s democracy will no longer exist.  This is a difficult assignment for Simon, as the two of them have a history. They first met as young students at Oxford. Will he be able to trust Justin? Or will that past interfere with what needs to be accomplished?

When Simon’s eyes are opened to what’s really going on in Germany and what is to come, his back is against the wall. So many countries support Hitler’s quest to become chancellor, and have no idea what that future might bring. Simon wants to reveal the truth, but there seems to be a spy in the mix. What will become of Simon, Justin and Bill?

Dawson has crafted a spectacular second story for “The Simon Sampson Mysteries” series, another great mix of historical fact and fiction. This book is extremely well written and detailed, capturing the turmoil in Berlin in 1933, the injustices of that time, and the cruelty that was ushered in by Hitler.

I love that Cameron MacCreadie still has a piece of Simon’s heart in some beautiful moments of remembrance. I also like that Simon met Justin again, and I can’t wait to find out where it will all lead.  

The book weaves a number of famous people from the era into the tale, especially women: Jean Ross, singer; Sally Bowles, writer; and Marlene Dietrich, actress. Be sure to check out “Author Notes” for more details. There’s also Hotel Adlon, an historical site that housed many famous individuals. 

I suggest reading A Death in Bloomsbury, the first book in “The Simon Sampson Mystery,” first as it introduces Simon Sampson and Frances “Bill” Miles.  

I highly recommend A Death In Berlin, one of the most outstanding novels that Dawson has written yet.

The Reviewer

Hi, I’m Maryann, I started life in New York, moved to New Hampshire and in 1965 uprooted again to Sacramento, California.  Once I retired I moved to West Palm Beach, Florida in 2011 and just moved back to Sacramento in March of 2018.  My son, his wife and step-daughter flew out to Florida and we road tripped back so they got to see sights they have never seen.  New Orleans and the Grand Canyon were the highlights. Now I am back on the west coast again to stay! From a young age Ialways liked to read.

I remember going to the library and reading the “Doctor Dolittle” books by Hugh Lofting. Much later on became a big fan of the classics, Edgar Alan Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and as time went by Agatha Christie, Ray Bradbury and Stephen Kingand many other authors.

My first M/M shifter book I read was written by Jan Irving the “Uncommon Cowboys” series from 2012.  She was the first author I ever contacted and sent an email to letting her know how much I liked this series.  Sometime along the way I read “Zero to the Bone”by Jane Seville, I think just about everyone has read this book! 

As it stands right now I’m really into mysteries, grit, gore and “triggers” don’t bother me. But if a blurb piques my interest I will read the book.

My kindle collection eclectic and over three thousand books and my Audible collection is slowly growing.  I have both the kindle and audible apps on my ipod, ipads, and MAC. So there is never an excuse not to be listening or reading.

I joined Goodreads around 2012 and started posting reviews.  One day a wonderful lady, Lisa Horan of The Novel Approach, sent me an email to see if I wanted to join her review group.  Joining her site was such an eye opener.  I got introduce to so many new authors that write for the LGBTQ genre. Needless to say, it was heart breaking when it ended.

But I found a really great site, QRI and it’s right here in Sacramento. Last year at QSAC I actually got to meet Scott Coatsworth, Amy Lane and Jeff Adams.


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