Friday, June 16, 2017

Catching the Wind by Melanie Dobson, 2017

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What happened to Brigitte Berthold?

That question has haunted Daniel Knight since he was thirteen, when he and ten-year-old Brigitte escaped the Gestapo agents who arrested both their parents. They survived a harrowing journey from Germany to England, only to be separated upon their arrival. Daniel vowed to find Brigitte after the war, a promise he has fought to fulfill for more than seventy years.

Now a wealthy old man, Daniel's final hope in finding Brigitte rests with Quenby Vaughn, an American journalist working in London. He believes Quenby's tenacity to find missing people and her personal investment in a related WWII espionage story will help her succeed where previous investigators have failed. Though Quenby is wrestling her own demons--and wary at the idea of teaming up with Daniel's lawyer, Lucas Hough--the lure of Brigitte's story is too much to resist. Together, Quenby and Lucas delve deep into the past, following a trail of deception, sacrifice, and healing that could change all of their futures.
(416 pages)

Of all the many WWII books I've read over the years, I can't even think of any that split the narrative between the war-time era and modern day the way Catching the Wind does. I really love the way we discover Brigitte's story alongside Quenby, as the modern-day reporter is hired to track down leads about her aged employer's childhood best friend lost during the tumult of emigrating from Germany to England. I got just as swept up in the investigation as Quenby did, and I was impressed by the way Dobson managed to incorporate pieces of Brigitte's story into letters and the like so that Quenby could mostly stay on the same page as the reader (without the benefit of chapters dedicated to telling her tale!), and to do so in a way that didn't make things redundant.

If I'm really nitpicking this aspect of the story, though, I do have to admit that I can't really believe that none of the other searchers found the trail of clues that Quenby does. A well-trained investigator should have been able to find all the same leads, yet everyone else Daniel hired couldn't. That didn't quite add up to me, because he was supposed to have been hiring the very best people for the search. An everyday journalist does not have the experience or training to beat out a real investigator, I don't care how passionate and empathetic she may be about the case. This is no dig to Quenby, of course, because she does make some incredible discoveries–I'm just saying there must have been something wrong with Daniel's hiring process before.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this book. It's extremely dramatic–some might even say melodramatic–but in a way that still seems almost possible. Plus, the most unbelievable stuff happens during WWII, a time period known for incredible happenings, so I can mostly buy all the plot twists that happen throughout the course of the book. Except possibly the last one. I totally saw that one coming but I still think it's just too much of a coincidence.

Basically, I highly recommend Catching the Wind. It's a fast-paced and engaging read split between the challenges and deceits of WWII and a modern-day pursuit for truth (sprinkled with a just-right amount of romantic tension, to boot!). While it does skate close to becoming ridiculous a few times, Dobson keeps ahold of the story and manages to steer it safely into port. I do wish the characters had debriefed a little more, because I felt like a lot of relationship issues were brushed past a little too quickly for my liking, but I suppose that just leaves more room for the imagination. Anyway, I hope you like Catching the Wind! Have you read it? If so, let us know in the comments what you thought of it!


Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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