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Days of Atonement
Magistrate Hanno Stiffeniis Series #2

by Michael Gregorio

      In Gregorio's second novel, he has the French, Prussians, and Jews pitted against each other in a multi-level mystery with exciting and unique characters. I love quality intellectual mysteries, and this novel is the best I have read in a long, long time. The year is 1807 and Napoleon's army has swept over Prussia. The French army occupies the conquered land and the resentful Prussians have resistance groups in the making.

Hanno Stiffeniis, a local Prussian magistrate, along with his wife, Helena, and their three children, has retreated to their country home in hopes of avoiding trouble. When three children are found murdered in a cabin, and their mother is missing, Hanno is called upon to assist the French criminologist, Colonel Serge Lavedrine, in investigating the crime. Each man wants to find the killer, and to exhibit his own superior investigative skills, without really pointing an accusatory finger at the other man. Stiffeniis begins a search for the missing woman's husband. He travels to a remote town that is still in the hands of the Prussian Army, evading bandits, and doing what he can to conceal the resistance movement, only to discover that the husband, too, has died under mysterious circumstances.

The pace goes into high gear when the missing wife is found dead in the most gruesome of circumstances. This is a novel that tells of difficult times with a sometimes dark mood, and explicit forensic detail, while maintaining an exciting tempo. The plot takes you in many different directions and brings you to an unexpected conclusion. I couldn't put this book down, and will definitely be watching for more from this talented author, who also wrote the acclaimed historical mystery, Critique of Criminal Reason.

The Book

St. Martin's Minotaur / Thomas Dunne Books
April 1, 2008
Hardbound (Reviewed from the Advance Uncorrected Proof)
0-312-37644-8 / 978-0-312-37644-4
Mystery / Historical , 19th century
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The Reviewer

Beverly J. Rowe
Reviewed 2008
© 2008