Title: Secret of the White Rose
Author: Stefanie Pintoff
Release Date: May 24, 2011
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
In the third book in the Simon Ziele series (after In the Shadow of Gotham and A Curtain Falls), Detective Simon finds himself in over his head after the murder of a judge about to deliver a verdict in an anarchist trial. Of course, the anarchist’s colleagues are the main suspects, but Ziele isn’t sure it’s that simple. Though the case is out of his jurisdiction, the deceased is a friend to Alistair Burke, the criminologist, and Ziele agrees to help out. What he comes to realize, though, is that Alistair is not being truthful with him, and Ziele is on his own trying to solve the case.
Stefanie Pintoff’s Simon Ziele series has become one of my favorites currently being written. It’s incredibly well written and the historical details are excellent. While the early twentieth century isn’t usually a time period that piques my curiosity, Pintoff has managed to find the most interesting aspects of that time and incorporates them into her books. Secret of the White Rose deals with anarchists, which is a very interesting movement from the reader’s perspective. Though those in charge automatically assume that the anarchists are to blame for the murder, Alastair and Ziele aren’t so sure.
In a reversal from previous books, Alastair brings Ziele into this case, rather than the other way around. He asks for Ziele’s expertise, and though he is hesitant, of course Simon provides it. This is what makes Alastair’s subsequent behavior so difficult – it becomes clear that Alastair is hiding something important, something that might be very important to the case. Ziele becomes increasingly frustrated, and the reader watches as he is forced to reevaluate their friendship. Simon admits that he has never really trusted Alastair fully, and has no reason to do so now, considering how shifty his behavior is. Pintoff manages to keep the relationship between these two characters tense and maintains the shadow around Alastair without frustrating the reader or making it seem artificial, quite a feat for the third book in a series.
The mystery in Secrets of the White Rose is interesting without being overly complicated. Readers will be able to follow Ziele’s thoughts and will be surprised by every twist and turn without puzzling over any plot developments. I was hooked from beginning to end, unable to put the novel down. I really appreciate Pintoff’s creativity and her ability to create fresh, engaging mysteries that aren’t predictable and don’t feel recycled.
I cannot stress enough how amazing Pintoff’s novels are, and I really hope more people pick them up. The characters are wonderfully developed, the historical details are intricate and bring the past to life, and the mysteries are gripping. If you haven’t read In the Shadow of Gotham and are a fan of mysteries in the slightest, you are doing yourself a disservice by not picking up this series. If you’ve read the first two, you’ll be thrilled to know that Secret of the White Rose does not disappoint – it delivers the incredibleness (yes, I made up a word because, at this point, I have used so many superlatives in this review that I have to resort to crafting my own) that I’ve come to expect from Stefanie Pintoff.