Anna Venu is a woman with a loving family, but one who holds many secrets, as she has grown up, she has realised that her grandmother didn’t want to share anything about her past as she lived her life travelling from Austria to Berlin and finally to the USA, she didn’t even tell her husband anything, she just acted as if it didn’t matter and nobody really pressed her, at least until one day just before she passed away when Anna asked her and she only told a snippet of a story about how she loved the zoo in Berlin, especially the zebra’s and how one saved her life during WWII when it blocked her from an artillery shell and losing it’s life in the process. However, a year later when she is feeling restless and nearly involved in an accident, she decides to go and visit her grandfather, he was a Seaman in the Navy and had written his story down in a book about how he survived a U-Boat attack and how he ended up meeting his wife, which Anna often revisited when she had the chance, however, on this particular day, he shows her a card with writing on the back addressed to her grandmother and a photograph which she always kept at her bedside, this is the starting point of a journey of discovery where Anna uses her pre-law training, her tenacity and determination to discover her grandmothers hidden past.
Anna is given access to some funds and decides to travel across the world to Austria and start at the beginning in the town of Sankt Gilgen in Austria where she goes to start to find out about her roots, this is when she realises that she has more family that she could have imagined as her search leads her to an old woman with a very detailed and large family tree and a story of why her grandmother distanced herself from them, it turns out that she fell in love with a soldier and refused to return to the family home after he tragically was killed in the war, instead deciding to become a nurse and stay in Berlin where she had gone to look for him.The next day when Anna shows the picture she brought with her, it turns out that it is a bit of a mystery as to why she didn’t look the same as in her portrait on the family tree, so Anna decides to go to Vienna where there is a military museum and try to get some more information about one of the men in the picture. When she gets there, she is rebuffed by a bored receptionist and then pointed in the right direction by a helpful security guard and meets the ex director of the museum, she asks for his help, however, it is not his area of expertise, but he knows someone whose it is. As Anna is put into contact with the next professor, she finds that she has to travel to Berlin and try and figure things out after their meeting, but she is passed onto a student as the professor hasn’t the time to deal with her request.
In this next stage of her journey, Anna finds out more about the people in the photograph, however, there is another mystery to solve when they are identified, they are not who she thought they were and so the next piece of the puzzle has to be sought and this leads her on a merry chase and discoveries which she would never have believed. Will she find out her grandmother’s past, or will it die with her when one lead after the other turns to nothing, or will what she discovers shake the very foundations of what Anna believed? This is a mystery with a historical basis which will challenge your perceptions, as well as teaching you about life at the time in the format of a thrilling mystery which will keep you intrigued throughout.
Reviewed by @roxsannel