By Cathy Gohlke
Published by Tyndale
453 pages

Back Cover: Increasingly wary of her father’s genetic research, Rachel Kramer has determined that this trip with him to Germany—in the summer of 1939—will be her last. But a cryptic letter from her estranged friend, begging Rachel for help, changes everything. Married to SS officer Gerhardt Schlick, Kristine sees the dark tides turning and fears her husband views their daughter, Amelie, deaf since birth, as a blight on his Aryan bloodline.

Once courted by Schlick, Rachel knows he’s as dangerous as the swastikas that hang like ebony spiders from every government building in Berlin. She fears her father’s files may hold answers about Hitler’s plans for others, like Amelie, whom the regime deems “unworthy of life.” She risks searching his classified documents only to uncover shocking secrets about her own history and a family she’s never known.

Now hunted by the SS, Rachel turns to Jason Young—a driven, disarming American journalist and unlikely ally—who connects her to the resistance and to controversial theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Forced into hiding, Rachel’s every ideal is challenged as she and Jason walk a knife’s edge, risking their lives—and asking others to do the same—for those they barely know but come to love.

REVIEW: I’m thankful for the review copy I received from The Book Club Network (sponsored by Tyndale Publishers) which introduced me to Cathy Gohlke and her brilliant, suspenseful, eye opening novel.

I liked the authors note to readers about writing the novel it reveals so much; “I needed to understand how it all began – why any of this madness made sense to those living at the time…At the most basic level, I believe that fear, greed, arrogance, and the desire to be above others – the cause of so much of the world’s strife – encompassed a nation grasping at straws for a savior, a nation desperate to climb from the pit in which they found themselves after the devastation of WWI… The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a dissident German Pastor, was one of the first who early recognized the danger of Hitler’s absolute power and his insistence of total allegiance to him rather than to any other, including Jesus Christ. Bonhoeffer wrote, “The church has only one alter of the almighty…before which all creatures must knell… He who seeks anything other than this must keep away: He can not join us in the house of God…the church has only one pulpit, and from that pulpit faith, and no other will than the will of God however well-intentioned.”

Rachel Kramer and her father Rudolph go to Germany for a conference. While there Rachel meets up with Kristine; an old friend of hers from High School at a dinner party. The next day she receives a cryptic note from Kristine asking for Rachel’s help. She shares the fact that her daughter Amelia is in danger – she has no one to turn to. Kristine’s husband is a rising star in the SS Officer Gerhardt Schlick, she tells her friend of what’s happening in the dark and the fact that her husband views their daughter Amelie as a weak link – deaf since birth – only the fittest survive under Hitler. Rachel was her only hope.

Rachel doesn’t know what to do with this information she wanted to talk to her father, an eminent eugenics scientist; she wondered if her father knew of Hitler’s plans – in their talks Rachel uncovers shocking secrets about her own history and a family she’s never met.

Jason Young – driven American journalist unlikely ally to Rachel– forced to hide in Oberammergau – the Bavarian village of the Passion Play, Rachel’s every ideal is challenged as she and Jason walk a knife’s edge, endangering their lives – and asking others to do the same.

Rachel asks her father How far his connections go? She tells her dad (Dr. Kramer) about what she’s learned and says, ”They put disabled children in vans and drive them around, gassing them as they go. “ Is this true?

“…that’s the nature of eugenics, isn’t it – to weed the weak from the strong?....Rachel looks at her dad, “But not at the cost of their lives. You can’t justify-“

“Unusual sacrifices are sometimes called for in order to achieve a greater good. We must all make sacrifices and contributions.”

This author takes readers on an incredible journey through Rachel’s eyes in the middle of Hitler’s reign. It’s a nail biting adventure that took so many twists and turns. I was surprised by some of the Holocaust information in this story. It made my hair stand on end to realize the extent Hitler went to get the “perfect” race. This story is a page turner that will keep you up late, spell bound at the cat and mouse game Rachel and Jason are playing. I had to remind myself to breathe in parts. This book will touch you deeply. It was my number one pick of fiction reads in 2014. I highly recommend it for your next book club pick.

Nora St Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins
The Book Club Network Blog
Book Fun Magazine


  1. this is in my tbr pile.. so need to read it.

    1. Hi, Mia; This was a book that touched me to the core of my being. It's a real eye opener. You are going to enjoy this book!