The Pilot’s Girl by Catherine Hokin is a gripping historical suspense that I could not put down. It is the second book in the Hanni Winter series. I recommend reading book one first to follow the storyline and character progression.
The action is set in Berlin in the late 1940’s. The city is divided as the Soviets try to starve the population and the Americans drop food supplies. Roaming the streets are gangs and individuals seeking revenge for some of the most heinous crimes – but the lengths to which some will go is horrifying.
Photographer, Hanni Winters once more teams up with Freddy, the police inspector as they set about trying to solve the brutal murders that are occurring in Berlin. What they uncover is shocking – but will anyone believe them?
During World War II the Nazis reigned with brutality and terror. Jewish citizens lost their livelihoods and their lives. Few were brave enough to stand up. What would you do if you found out your father was a high-ranking Nazi official? The reader applauds the actions of one brave youngster but the father always seems to be one step ahead and controlling a life with terror. The dreadful secret of one’s roots needs to be kept until justice is served.
Many remaining Jewish people are alone as their families perished in the Holocaust. Guilt and grief remain but “he had a duty to the lost to keep on living.” Survivor’s guilt follows them down the years. “I couldn’t unsee my mother and my sister being marched away. And I couldn’t forgive myself for being alive.”
As well as the action in the late 1940’s, there are also snippets back to the camps. It is heart breaking. It is horrifying. Catherine Hokin says so much about the plight of surviving Jewish children in one sentence as the camps are occupied by the allies. “Where… starving children sat and watched their rescuers through eyes that had seen far worse than any of them had learned language to express.” We can never begin to imagine what those poor souls went through.
The Pilot’s Girl was a fast-paced post war thriller that I could not put down. I read with heart racing to the end. Hani and Freddy are a likable pairing, each fighting their own demons, but determined that justice will be served.