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Published by Allison & Busby, 19 July 2018. ISBN:
The background of this story, the
fifth in the series featuring Lee Arnold and Mumtaz Hakim of the Arnold Private
Investigation Agency in London’s East End, is the continuing fallout of the
disruption in Europe resulting from the post-World War II chaos after the fall
of the evil Nazi regime. Now their help is being sought by the elderly Orthodox
Jew, Irving Levy, whose family has for generations traded in diamonds in Hatton
garden off Holborn Circus. He is suffering from a terminal disease and, having
recently had a DNA test, has discovered that his mother was not Jewish at all
which makes him, according to Orthodox Jewish doctrine, not Jewish but Gentile.
Since he never married and is rich to whom should he leave his wealth? To some
cousins on his father’s side whom he hardly knows and does not like? Or should
he try and find his true mother? He knows that his father was in the British
Army during and after the War and met and married his mother, a refugee, in
Berlin. And there is another mystery: his baby sister had been abducted while
she, his mother, and he had been at the Barking Park Fair. Baby Miriam Levy had
never been seen again, but if he could find her or any descendants he could leave
his wealth to her or them. Lee and Mumtaz, intrigued by this double mystery,
first discover that the house where Irving’s father had encountered his mother
had in fact been in the Russian sector of Berlin rather than the British sector
as had previously been assumed. As from 1947, when the Iron Curtain came down,
to 1989, when the Berlin Wall came down, inquiries by the curious were
vigorously discovered. But as to the disappearance of little Miriam there are
no clues despite massive media coverage and extensive police inquiries. But
Irving still wishes to discover what he can about the Fair which still visits
Barking every year; the ownership of the Fair has changed but some of the
original personnel remain, particularly the ancient and malicious Hungarian
Romany Bela Horvathly, and some of his descendants continue to participate in
the Fair’s events as do the strange so-called Siamese twins, referred to as
Ping and Pong, part of the original ‘freak show’, who pop up from time to time
like hobgoblins in a Christmas panto.
Lee and Mumtaz escort Irving to Berlin to find that the house where Irving’s
father and mother first met and there they discover that the house is still
there and occupied by the son of the former occupant. Further enquiries lead
them into the violent history of Berlin under the Nazis and during the post-War
chaos and later when under the iron grip of the totalitarian East German regime
and the Stasi (the secret police) and also into Hungary’s role of collaboration
and resistance during the War and to the failed Uprising in 1956. Another
complication is the relationship between Lee and Mumtaz, consummated only once,
to which Mumtaz’s strict Muslim principles are an insurmountable bar. Not to
mention the hounding of Mumtaz and her beloved step-daughter Shazia by the
family of Mumtaz’s murdered husband who demand recompense, financial and
important theme is the role of women as child bearers illustrated both by
Irving’s mother’s grief at the abduction of little Miriam and the anger of some
Muslim men at their wives’ inability to bear children.
usual with this writer a complex and multi-stranded plot come together in a
convincing and satisfying resolution, while the narrative is brought to life by
a gallery of lively and credible characters. It moves along at a smart and
lively pace without at any point failing to maintain interest. Much
Reviewer: Radmila May
Barbara Nadel was born in the East End of
London. She rained as an actress, and used to work in mental health services.
She now writes full time and has been a visitor to Turkey for over twenty years. She
received the Crime Writers' Association Silver Dagger for her novel Deadly Web.
born in the U.S. but has lived in the U.K. since she was seven apart from seven
years in The Hague. She read law at university but did not go into practice.
Instead she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and still does
occasional work for them including taking part in a substantial revision and
updating of her late husband’s legal practitioners’ work on Criminal Evidence
published late 2015. She has also contributed short stories with a distinctly
criminal flavour to two of the Oxford Stories anthologies published by Oxpens
Press – a third story is to be published shortly in another Oxford Stories
anthology – and is now concentrating on her own writing.