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The Second Son: A Novel by Jonathan Rabb (Excerpt)

The Second Son: A Novel by Jonathan Rabb (Excerpt)

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An Intriguing Historical Thriller Set in the Barcelona of the Spanish Civil War

On the eve of Hitler’s Olympics, Chief Inspector Nikolai Hoffner, a half Jew, has been forced out of the Kriminalpolizei. Luckily, Hoffner’s focus is elsewhere. His son Georg is missing in Spain, swept up in the sudden outbreak of the civil war. He has already lost Sascha, his elder son, who is fully entrenched in the Nazi regime. But Georg is not what he appears to be, and when Hoffner discovers this, he is determined to save the one son he can.

The Second Son is the eagerly awaited final installment in Jonathan Rabb’s Berlin trilogy, set between the two world wars. In Harper’s Magazine, John Leonard called the first, Rosa, “a ghostly noir that could have been conspired at by Raymond Chandler and André Malraux.” The second, Shadow and Light (2009), garnered rave reviews—in The Washington Post, Wendy Smith praised its “atmosphere” and “brilliantly plotted narrative.” Now, nearly ten years after the events of Shadow and Light, Hoffner finds himself tossed into the chaos that is Spain— where he quickly meets anarchists, Soviet and British secret agents, and a female doctor called Mila Pera—as he follows a trail of clues left by Georg.

In the spirit of Joseph Kanon and Alan Furst—whose Foreign Correspondent also took place in the mountains of Spain—Rabb delivers another atmospheric work, rich with his storytelling talent and historical expertise.

“The Second Son is an unusual blend of hard-boiled detective novel and love story . . . the narrative never flags. It proves that first-rate detectives are like good lovers and good novelists: keenly observant, intuitive and tough as nails.”
—Tara McKelvey, The New York Times Book Review

Excerpted from SECOND SON: A Novel by Jonathan Rabb, to be published in February 2011 by Sarah Crichton Books, an imprint of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © by Jonathan Rabb. All rights reserved.
An Intriguing Historical Thriller Set in the Barcelona of the Spanish Civil War

On the eve of Hitler’s Olympics, Chief Inspector Nikolai Hoffner, a half Jew, has been forced out of the Kriminalpolizei. Luckily, Hoffner’s focus is elsewhere. His son Georg is missing in Spain, swept up in the sudden outbreak of the civil war. He has already lost Sascha, his elder son, who is fully entrenched in the Nazi regime. But Georg is not what he appears to be, and when Hoffner discovers this, he is determined to save the one son he can.

The Second Son is the eagerly awaited final installment in Jonathan Rabb’s Berlin trilogy, set between the two world wars. In Harper’s Magazine, John Leonard called the first, Rosa, “a ghostly noir that could have been conspired at by Raymond Chandler and André Malraux.” The second, Shadow and Light (2009), garnered rave reviews—in The Washington Post, Wendy Smith praised its “atmosphere” and “brilliantly plotted narrative.” Now, nearly ten years after the events of Shadow and Light, Hoffner finds himself tossed into the chaos that is Spain— where he quickly meets anarchists, Soviet and British secret agents, and a female doctor called Mila Pera—as he follows a trail of clues left by Georg.

In the spirit of Joseph Kanon and Alan Furst—whose Foreign Correspondent also took place in the mountains of Spain—Rabb delivers another atmospheric work, rich with his storytelling talent and historical expertise.

“The Second Son is an unusual blend of hard-boiled detective novel and love story . . . the narrative never flags. It proves that first-rate detectives are like good lovers and good novelists: keenly observant, intuitive and tough as nails.”
—Tara McKelvey, The New York Times Book Review

Excerpted from SECOND SON: A Novel by Jonathan Rabb, to be published in February 2011 by Sarah Crichton Books, an imprint of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © by Jonathan Rabb. All rights reserved.

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Published by: Farrar, Straus and Giroux on Feb 24, 2011
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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03/31/2011

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BARCELONA
There was nothing but heat and sun. And, from time to time, the youngman forced himself to arch his neck just to feel the lines of sweat drippingdown his back.What had he expected, a German in Spain? It was his job to sweat andlook sickly doing it. His cheeks had gone a nice pasty red, even through athree-day growth of beard. Hewasn’t smelling all that good either, but thenneitherwere any of the others in the row, staring across the plaza, camerasat the ready, cigarettes hanging limply from parched lips.The young man had thought about keeping the beard, but he knew hiswife would tell him to shave it off the moment he got back to Berlin. Itwould probably scare the boy anyway“Where’s my papi! Where’s mypapi!” ringing down the hall, screams and tears before all the presents cametumbling out of the suitcase. Presentswere always good with a boy of four,even from a father he didn’t quite recognize.It hadn’t been that long, he thought. Not this timehad it?The young man kept his right arm on the crank of the movie camera,his eye at the view nder, as, with his left hand, he tried to grope for the canof water he had set down somewhere on the cobbled pavement.He must have looked ridiculous doing it because a voice down the line
 
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JONATHAN RABB
blurted out, “You do juggling tricks as well, Hoffner, or is it just the balanc-ing act?”The wordswere Spanish, but it was a thick Eastern European accent that muddied the sound.Georg Hoffner pulled himself back from the camera. He brought hislong body upright, blinked the sweat from his eye, and stared down at a fatBulgarian with a hand-held Leica strung across his chest. The cameralooked twenty years old, cutting-edge for a Bulgarian.“Why?” said Hoffner. “You have some balls that need juggling?”Therewere a few laughs, those dry uncomfortable laughs that comewith heat and sweat, but almost at once the line fell silent. Across the plaza,the doors to a vast building opened. Hoffner quickly repositioned himself behind the camera and peered through the view nder. He focused on thebanner hanging above, hastily painted but still impressive:’ , – , ,    ,  A line of young men and women began to pour out the doors, alldressed as workers, with red neckerchiefs and berets to signify their exaltedstation in life. To be a worker in Barcelona these days, a member of theproletariatthat was the stuff of dreams. To be a worker athletewell,that was pure legend.The fat Bulgarian snapped his shots as he tried to squeeze past the lineof Guardia Civil: patent leather hats, patent leather bootspatent leathermen with patent leather souls. How these soldierswere managing to stayupright in the heat was anybody’s guess. Still, Bulgarianswere never muchgood at maneuvering through large Spaniards with cudgels. The Bulgar-ian pushed once too often and his camera went crashing to the pavement.Hoffner heard the moans from down the line, but itwasn’t enough todraw his attention from the smart set of Germans striding across his lens.Hoffner cranked as they walked, his arm remarkably steady as he followedthem along the plaza. There was something almost Soviet to the way theseboys moved, triumphant and bedraggled all at once, their nobility protrud-

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