Author Ronald H. Balson treats us to another wonderful book featuring the characters of Catherine Lockhart and Liam Taggart, the husband and wife team of lawyer and investigator. Defending Britta Stein is an absorbing story told in dual timelines.
In present day (2018), Ole Henryks, a ninety-five-year-old man who owns a successful tavern, is about to be honored by the Danish-American Association of Chicago for his heroism during World War II and his role in saving many Jewish citizens of Denmark from the Nazis. After this accolade makes the local news, someone paints on the wall of his restaurant – Liar, Informer, Traitor, Nazi collaborator, Nazi agent, Betrayer. It is soon discovered that the person spray-painting these words is ninety-two-year-old Britta Stein. Catherine Lockhart is persuaded to defend Britta in a defamation suit against her.
Catherine needs to prove that what Britta wrote on the wall is true but she knows it will be an uphill battle. Due to Britta's advanced age, Catherine wants to quickly get the details as to how Britta is so sure that Ole is not the hero he says he is. But Britta wants to tell her complete story to both Catherine and her granddaughter Emma, also an attorney. This engaging book shifts back in time to Denmark and the start of the war. Denmark had entered into a unique occupation agreement with Germany which allowed the country's political institutions and its king to remain in relative control under its rule. This agreement changed in 1943 as the Germans saw growing hostility and decided it was time to get the Danes in line and also remove its Jewish population.
Both the historical side of the book as well as the present-day legal proceedings makes for a riveting read. The relationship that develops between Catherine and Britta is very touching as well as Emma’s discovery of her beloved “Bubbe’s” true history.
The main characters are all fictional but the story of how the Danish people supported their small Jewish community through the worst of times is true and brought tears to my eyes.
Defending Britta Stein is another winning book in a moving series.
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: September 7, 2021.
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