Secret of the White Rose Review
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It seems that terrorism has been around for a very long time. Terror campaigns are nothing new. People experienced it years ago, just as they do today. In her latest novel, Secret of the White Rose, author Stefanie Pintoff depicts the rise of anarchy (which is basically domestic terrorism) at the turn of the twentieth century.

A bomb goes off in New York City, during a Carnegie family wedding—but, instead of killing millionaires as the anarchist had hoped, it kills a child and some innocent people passing by. The man responsible, Al Drayson, awaits his trial in jail—and he seems to have no remorse for the lives he took.

Hugo Jackson, the judge who’s presiding over the Drayson trial, is found dead in his home, slumped over his desk, with his right hand on the Bible and a white rose lying next to him. The new police commissioner is certain that the judge’s death is related to the trial—but Detective Simon Ziele isn’t convinced. The new commissioner isn’t happy about Ziele’s theories, but Jackson’s wife insists that Simon be a part of the investigation, even though it’s out of his jurisdiction.

When another judge turns up dead—with only a slight difference in method—Ziele becomes certain that his friend and colleague, Alistair Sinclair, could be a target. Thirty years ago, before he began to study the criminal mind, Sinclair was a lawyer—and a part of a group that met regularly to discuss cases. The members have begun to die one by one, growing ever closer to Alistair Sinclair’s turn.

Author Stefanie Pintoff writes with meticulous detail, weaving as much early criminal science as she can into the plot, which beefs up the mystery. While I find the subject matter interesting, however, it can also serve to slow the story down a bit. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for me, but if you like your reads to move along at a faster clip, Secret of the White Rose probably won’t appeal to you.

Simon Ziele is an admirable, hard-working detective, who can put aside his personal feelings toward suspects—including organized groups with less than noble agendas—and hunt for the truth. Unlike a few of his superiors, Ziele doesn’t believe in sending a person to jail for a crime he didn’t commit—even if he’s guilty of other crimes that he’ll most likely get away with. Few men of his time are that gracious, which makes Ziele a likable hero.

Ms. Pintoff captures New York City in a time when a mixture of different races and cultures made the Big Apple a volatile place. It’s truly fascinating to experience while you’re puzzling out this detailed mystery and its characters—making Secret of the White Rose a splendid addition to the Simon Ziele mystery series.

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