Review of DEATH IN FOCUS by Anne Perry

DEATH IN FOCUS is the first in the new Elena Standish mystery series by Anne Perry. The novel will be published September 17th 2019 by Ballantine Books. The series is set in the mid-1930s Europe as Hitler rises to power and stage is set for World War II.

Elena Standish - an aspiring photographer – and her sister are ion vacation in Italy when she falls in love with a young man named Ian. After Ian is murdered on the train trip to Paris, Elena takes over his mission to Berlin to stop the assassination one of the leaders in the Nazi Party. When the British Embassy fails to prevent the assassination, Elena finds herself as the German’s top suspect. Knowing that the assassination will be pinned on her, Elena is forced to trust strangers as she goes underground in Berlin. Back in England, her grandfather and his contacts at MI6 are trying to find a way to extract Elena from Germany, but, much like Elena, they don’t know who they can trust.

DEATH IN FOCUS was very well written, though a bit far-fetched at times. I liked Elena’s characters, but she was too trusting and naïve. With her German police and the Nazis party after her, Elena relies a little too heavily on complete strangers to help her. Yes, she is in a tough spot and she needs help. But it was obvious that at least one of these strangers was going to betray her. I had one of the antagonists – and the biggest threat to Elena – figured out from his first appearance in the novel.

The chapters switch back and forth between Elena and four or five other characters. Elena is the main focus of the novel, but her grandfather and his friend at MI6 also play a significant role. Figuring out the timeline as the story moved between different characters was a bit confusing – I would have appreciated either chapter headings that told the date to better establish the timeline. I also felt that there was a lack of character development, and necessary backstory was not included. Parts of the novel dragged, and then the ending was too rushed. The time period was richly brought to life, as well as the political strife that was amping up in Germany.

Thanks to the NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.