The Traitor in Us All (Five Star Mystery Series)

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9781594148521: The Traitor in Us All (Five Star Mystery Series)
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Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, two teenage girls are brutally murdered and a third kidnapped in Eden Highlands, a quiet Southern California community north of San Diego. It takes a down-on-his-luck freelance writer, Jack Sothern, to connect the crimes to the long-missing diary kept by Erich Mielke, sadistic head of East Germany?s Ministry of State Security. The diary?s mother lode of state secrets is potentially worth millions in a bidding war among countries. Deals are struck, treachery substitutes for truth and the body count rises in a non-stop series of page-turning revelations as Sothern races to save the kidnapped girl and redeem his honor.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Bloodthirsty killer Emil Grass abducts teen Tracy Collins from an Eden Highlands, Calif., pizza parlor, after shooting dead a high school friend of hers, at the start of this far-fetched thriller from Levinson (In the Key of Death). Jack Sothern, a world-weary journalist, recognizes a link between Tracy's kidnapping and Tracy's mother, Maggie, who may be privy to the secrets contained in the missing diary of the late Erich Mielke, the notorious head of East Germany's Ministry of State Security. Years earlier, Maggie was married to Dan Boone, a controversial American entertainer who became known as the turncoat rebel after he defected to the U.S.S.R. When Dan tried to return to the U.S. in 1987, he was apparently murdered in East Germany. Tracy's harrowing experience as Emil's hostage is the high point of a tale hampered by less than credible characters, notably the over-the-top villain and a mysterious femme fatale who manipulated Jack and broke his heart during the cold war era. (Feb.)
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From Booklist:

Jack Sothern is a journalist who used to have a career; now he’s a freelancer barely keeping his head above water. When two young girls are murdered and a third is abducted, Jack realizes that the crimes are related to the episode in his past that cost him his career. Desperate for redemption (both personal and professional), he risks his own life to save the kidnapped girl and to right an old wrong. This is quite a good crime novel, with a strong protagonist and a story that runs on character, not plot, twists. It’s a traditional mystery with a few unconventional elements—for example, the author introduces his main character by revealing him when another character opens a door—and, although the book appears to be a stand-alone, it’s a good bet that readers would enjoy seeing more of the likable Jack Sothern. --David Pitt

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Robert S. Levinson
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