Historical Novel Society - Editor's Choice
An American woman, Addie Bridges, accidentally finds herself in the center of a tense power-struggle in Rand Charles’ gripping and tremendously effective debut novel Fall Irmgard.
The year is 1941, and Addie Bridges is in Paris when she witnesses the murder of a popular German businessman, Konni Ritter. The authorities order her to remain in Paris in spite of Germany’s looming war with America, and Charles complicates things greatly by introducing the fascinating character of Abwehr major Rolf von Gerz and putting him in charge of investigating Ritter’s death.
In classic whodunit fashion, it quickly turns out there are many equally possible suspects, many of them connected with Paris demimonde. Charles does an extremely skillful job of deploying one plot-twist and unforeseen revelation after another, all while filling out his book with atmospheric and well-researched details of life in Paris as it passed into the dark days of Nazi occupation. His characters are well-drawn, and his dramatic pacing maintains an absorbing momentum throughout.
An extremely satisfying (and beautifully designed) book.
Steve Donoghue – US Editor – Historical Novel Society
Desperate to return home from France on the eve of Hitler’s anticipated declaration of war, American Addie Bridges realizes her future is anything but certain when she witnesses the brutal murder of German businessman and sweet old raconteur Konni Ritter. Addie is ordered to remain in Paris as a material witness to the murder, threat of war or no.
The fragile balance of the occupation’s first well-mannered year could careen into violent oppression if it turns out the French engineered Ritter’s death. And nothing would benefit the SS more in their desire to wrest control of France from the army. Charged with uncovering the truth, Abwehr major Rolf von Gerz begins to tally the suspects: Was it the spiteful chanteuse at the Club l’Heure Blue? Or the club’s crafty Alsatian manager, with well-known ties to the Paris underworld? Ritter’s estranged business partner? Or could the recent murder of a French stockbroker somehow be connected? And most troubling of all: Can the beautiful young American be trusted?
A riveting murder mystery, spy thriller, and love story, with uniquely colorful characters and a surprise ending, Fall Irmgard is a true page-turner that draws the reader into the high-brow, seductive world of 1940s Paris, a city on the cusp of unraveling.
“I love this story, the characters, the way the characters interact, the way the subplots intertwine, the author’s sense of Paris and Germany at the time, and his overall commentary on the historical and political issues of the day. Fall Irmgard brings occupied Paris to life, and exposes the rich tapestry of people that lived there.”...