In 1980, in Houston, Texas, Nora, a pediatric surgeon who is a single mother, returns home to find her own mother, Anneke, murdered, with her hair brutally cut from her head, and her daughter Rose, 6 months old, missing. On the floor of her living room is a dead man she has never seen before with a German Luger only a few feet from his hand. Nora has no idea who might want to kill her kind and gentle mother, and furthermore, knows no reason why anyone would take her child. So begins the hunt to find out information which will keep the reader guessing until the very last page! Although, at times, it may defy belief and seem contrived, with an ending that is kind of unrealistic, it is, nevertheless, an exciting and romantic mystery. It is an engaging read that will entertain the reader on a beach or a terrace, on a plane or a train, or at any time, for that matter, when the reader simply wants to relax.
After Nora calls 911, a file is opened, but the inquiry proceeds too slowly for her. She has her own theories about what might have happened and where the search for her mother’s murderer and her daughter’s kidnapper should begin. When there are no ransom calls and there is no progress in the investigation, she decides to take matters into her own hands and following clues she finds almost by accident, she rushes off to the Netherlands, her mother and father’s place of birth. The condition of her mom’s body and the gun left behind, led her to believe that she was killed in the manner of a collaborator during World War II, so she begins to search for any evidence about her mother’s life, during that time period.
Her former lover, Nico, is in charge of the building where the war records are kept. They are strictly controlled and access is limited. Because he is, coincidentally, out of town when she arrives, her task is made more difficult. Although it is decades later, the war records and diaries, in Amsterdam, have not been digitized or cross catalogued. The search for information is painstaking and slow. Nora commits fraud, bends the rules and breaks the rules, in order to find out whatever she can about her mother and father’s past. Eventually, Nico returns. He is now married, but when he makes a shocking discovery about Nora and her daughter, Rose, he joins in her quest to find her, helping and protecting Nora in this endeavor, whenever possible.
Nora discovers relatives she never knew existed and a past that she could never even imagine. She gets caught up in a diabolical scheme and her own life is in danger. What she eventually learns makes her question her own mother’s behavior, her past and her honesty. The lust for revenge, gross misunderstandings, grudges and intense anger gone awry, exacerbated by the nightmare memories of the war and the camps, have caused bitterness to fester for past crimes perceived as real, which may or may not have, in fact, occurred as remembered but have led to disastrous consequences.
The book raises questions for the reader. If you were there during WWII, what do you think you would have done? Would you have tried to protect those in need? Would you have turned a blind eye, in order to protect yourself and your own family or would you have risked your own and their lives to help others who were desperate?