Doerr's book takes place in Hitler occupied France during the years 1941 to 1944. It deals with the resistance movement with the use of radio transmissions, the attempts to preserve valuables in Museums, to keep them out of enemy hands and a blind girl who was part of it all. The writing is beautiful, tight, absorbing. It may be a little slow moving for folks who don't read a lot but many who have read it say how fast they got caught up in it and how much they enjoyed the read. I did too.
Donnelly's story is a different time period, earlier in history. Shipping is big business, things go wrong often. Women know their place and it is not in the workplace. There is much poverty and all the low life and prostitution and stuff that goes with it. A teenage girl's father dies, said by the wealthy folks to be accidental. But, she overhears a conversation in which it is said that he was murdered. Now Jo is on a mission to solve her father's murder. But it being unbecoming for a woman of her class to do so and she doesn't know her way around the seedy areas she must go to, she needs help. That comes in the form of a newsie named Eddie. The pair fall in love though this is a forbidden love. They search for answers to Jo's father's murder. They suspect that a few other recent accidental deaths or suicides were also murders by the same person. It takes a lot of heart ache and danger and searching to unravel the mystery.
Blankman's story takes place in Munich during the same time period as Doerr's. As a vehicle for showing teen readers the inner workings of the Hitler party and its rise to power it works fairly well. It is interesting to read about the bevy of young girl "pets" he liked to keep around him and pamper, the heroine of this story is one. And about his hit squads, how he decided who was aryan enough to serve in his military and Hitler's psychological profile. The phrase "night and fog" is more a part of the French occupation than that which occurred in Munich. That was just one of the bothersome things in this story. There is once again a teenage girl who overhears folks saying that her father was murdered. The story was that he was killed stopping bullets from hitting Hitler when the military of the ruling party fired on Hitler and his marchers during a demonstration and therefore died a hero. Gretchen sets out to discover every facet of her father's death from who all the conspirators were to who did the shooting to why and more. There is a picture. A Jewish Journalist she crosses paths with gives it to her and they form a bond though not like the strong love between Jo and Eddie in Donnelly's story. The pair work together to get that information which Gretchen wants. Its just that every person she wants to talk with dies or in the case of Hitler warns her off. One can assume a cover up and that her nosing around is causing the murders of all those people. Also, Gretchen has a very creepy brother and even after a couple of dangerous encounters she keeps throwing herself in his path which does risk her life. She risks the journalist's life as well. Its true there is a nail biting finale which i am told folks really like but in Donnelly's story Jo was willing to stop her search for detail when other lives appeared at risk. Jo was to me a much more sympathetic character than Gretchen with her nothing will stop me attitude. Remember I said she had been shown a picture of the incident in which her father was shot. Even though she never admitted it, Gretchen had to have know who shot her father in the back, who murdered him just from the photo.