Death in Focus

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 18 Nov 2019

Member Reviews

This is a great first book in a new series by Anne Perry.   Elena Standish is the daughter of a diplomat and the granddaughter of the head of MI6 during the First WW.  This book takes place before the start of WWII.   Elena, a photographer, and her sister Margot have gone to the Amalfi coast for an Economics Conference.  Elena had previously worked in the Foreign office, fell in love with her boss, and he had betrayed them all.  However, she meets Ian, who she easily connects with.  After they find a dead man in the hotel, Emma agrees to ride the train to Paris with Ian.  When she finds Ian dying, he asks her to go to Berlin to warn the British embassy that a high up Nazi, Scharnhorst, is going to be shot at a rally.  

Emma tells the Embassy, and then goes to the rally and shoots pictures, including one of Scharnhorst being shot.  When she returns to the hotel she finds a rifle in her closet and realizes they are going to pin the shooting on her.  She escapes from the hotel, is befriended by some Jews, and while still on the run, watches the burning of books where she takes more moving photos.  

This is a very exciting mystery, with graphic descriptions of what is happening in Berlin in the days before war begins.  There is a very surprising event at the end of the book.
Was this review helpful?
Reading an Anne Perry book is the gift that keeps on giving. Each page is filled with twists and turns and a story line that keeps you wanting more. I was thrilled to read this book as it is a first in a new series. This was an amazing book that introduces us to Elena Standish in the time just before the start of World War II. We first meet Elena in Amalfi. Her vacation turns into a nightmare when she unwittingly becomes involved in secrets that she should not have heard.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC copy of this exciting new series by Anne Perry. I absolutely loved it, did not see the ending coming, can not wait until the next book and I think this series may be my new favorite of all of the authors works!!
Was this review helpful?
Normally, I devour the books by Anne Perry and have enjoyed her characters and writing immensely over the years, however, after 18 chapters and trying diligently to absorb the story being told, I was forced to abandon this promising new series.  There was entirely too much gore for me to accept.  In 18 chapters there were 2 murders, an assassination, and a person who apparently had their skin removed.  I couldn't go on.

I was very much interested in a character such as Elena Standish, seeing the second World War through the eyes of a photographer.  I guess I just didn't expect the gory descriptions that came with it.  As usual the writing was superb, the story appalling.
Was this review helpful?
This is another new series from Anne Perry and is set in the 1930s. Initially, Perry focuses on the toll people paid as a result of WWI, particularly women. As this book opens, there is an increasing fear that war is once again on the horizon – a war that no one wants.

Then the book really begins as we join Elena Standish and her sister, Margot, who are vacationing in Amalfi on the Italian coast. After meeting a young man, Ian, she is smitten. She impetuously agrees to travel to Paris with him. When Ian is attacked on the train, he convinces Elena to agree to go to Berlin to deliver a message to the British ambassador. When Ian dies, Elena fells compelled to change her plans once again and goes to Berlin.

Once again, Perry has created compelling, complex characters who act according to the social mores of the time. This book is so well-written that Perry evokes the era and the cities so the reader feels like she can see the beauty of Amalfi as well the frenzied pace of Berlin and the sense that some people are frozen and unable to act because their fear of another war is so deep. The ending was satisfactory and not easily predictable.

If you like historical mysteries and are intrigued with history just before WWII, this new series is for you. While it is always exciting to read the first book in a series, reading a new-series book by an author you’ve been reading for years is even more exciting. This book belongs at, or near, the top of every historical mystery fan’s to-be-read list.

My thanks to Ballantine and NetGalley for a free eARC.
Was this review helpful?
You know how at the end of a relationship, the cliche is "it isn't you, it's me"?  Well, in this case, it was you, Anne Perry.  I had great difficulty getting into the story, found Elena overly naive and other characters boring and not well developed, and the plot was uneven.  I can't tell you how many times I "hurrumphed" over Elena's poor choices and found myself nearly shouting at her.  It may be that I have over-mined the period in my reading of late, but this was not the best of the novels I've read of the period.

It isn't the end of my relationship with Anne Perry, but it is with Elena.  I just can't invest the energy in her.

My thanks to NetGallery, Random House and the author for an advance copy to review.
Was this review helpful?
This title was requested from NetGalley in exchange of an honest review and thank you to the publisher for the opportunity to read it.  I found “Death in Focus” to be a fast-paced, engaging read.  The time period, between WWI and WWII, was well depicted and felt authentic.  I felt easily connected to the main characters throughout the book and the writing was suspenseful.  I can definitely imagine a new series emerging  from this initial installment.   That being said, I must comment on the character, Elena, and her incredible naivety.  Honestly, the choices the author had this character making repeatedly throughout the novel almost ruined the book for me.  At almost every turn, I kept thinking no one could be so dumb as to trust as many shady characters as Elena fell in with.  I will look for the next installment in this series when the author puts it out with the hope that Ms. Perry gives her protagonist some better judgement and street smarts.  As a reader, I am not attracted to main characters who are just plain stupid.
Was this review helpful?
Anne Perry has been one of my favorite authors for several years, and so I was happy to have the opportunity to read this first in a new series which I was provided by Netgalley, the author, and Penguin Random House.  
The central character here is Elena Standish, a young British woman who, while on holiday in Amalfi becomes unwillingly involved in espionage that is ongoing during the build-up to WWII.  In a few short but traumatic days she finds herself in Berlin, running for her life, a scapegoat for the Nazis.  While there she observes people who are also living in terror and hiding out as much as possible, but also among many she sees a frenzied admiration of Hitler, a kind of desperate hope pinned on him.  

The author uses Elena and her family to explore and illustrate the divisions among the British people during the 1930’s in the lead up to WWII.  Elena comes from a family where several have been involved in the War, and peace, efforts during and since WWI.  Her father, Charles, has been in the Diplomatic Service for some time, and her grandparents, Lucas and Josephine, have both been engaged in clandestine activities.  Of course, no one else in the family has been aware of that involvement, and Lucas and Josephine are only vaguely aware of each others’ role.   There is conflict currently between Charles and his father, Lucas, about how England should be proceeding in the face of Germany’s increasing power.  Charles is in the camp that favors concessions to Hitler, and that another war is to be avoided at any cost.  Lucas, alarmed at the rhetoric and aggression he sees from Germany, believes that a second war is inevitable.  But soon all that is put aside, as everyone in the family is seeking to do all they can to ensure Elena’s safety.  

The author also uses Elena to give us a piece of cautionary advice.  While in Berlin, as she observes the German people, Elena begins to consider what she would do if these same things were happening in England.  She thinks “you do not need to believe evil, only to use it’s methods.  You will get accustomed to them, until eventually they are not your last choice, but your first.  For a while, you can justify it to yourself, and then eventually you will not bother.  You have forgotten what you were fighting for;  now winning is the only objective.  And the more you win, the more you justify it, until the whole idea of right and wrong disappears, and only winning matters”.  

I will be looking forward to the next installment in this series.
Was this review helpful?
Over the years, I've loved the Anne Perry Christmas books, as well as the Pitt books and so I expected to love this one. Though it had a bit of a slow start, I ended up loving it, despite the fact that I was surprised at how different it is from her usual books.  This is much more of a spy/thriller-type book.

Despite my early misgivings, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Loved the characters and the 1930's pre-war Germany setting.

Ultimately, I would highly recommend this one to people who enjoy historical mysteries and/or to those who are willing to give a try to a completely different kind of book from an author who they thought they knew. Great possibilities here!!
Was this review helpful?
I did not finish this book and thus will not be posting a full review on my blog.  I could not follow this book - it was immediately intricate as if it were not the first in a series.  It was trying to tell a lot without actually saying anything.  I think the premise is good and this author is splendid but this was not the book for me. Thank you for your consideration.
Was this review helpful?
This is going to be such an enjoyable series! It was very light on character development and a bit jumpy in plot, but thoroughly enjoyable and a great start.
Was this review helpful?
Anne Perry is a well-known, bestselling author of historical fiction. She is known for her ceaseless historical research and her ability to catch the time-period so that readers feel they are living in the time. Twenty-eight year old Elena Standish is the new heroine in a series of the same name, and the novels take place in pre-World War II Europe when Hitler was rising to power. In the first installment of the series, Elena and her sister Margot are on holiday on the coast of Italy where Elena meets the love of her life, Ian, and suddenly decides to go home to London with him. Elena’s father is a foreign diplomat, and her Grandfather was once head of M16, so she has ties to the political goings-on of the day. Ian is also an agent, which she learns about later. On her train ride home, Ian is murdered, and Elena, with the help of a friend who seems to be there to keep her out of trouble, goes to Berlin to finish Ian’s mission. Elena is arrested and is accused of a murder that she didn’t commit; she escapes, but may not survive, since the Nazis are still after her.

Anne Perry’s writing is always good, and she is expert in telling a believable story. She is a master of developing her characters, and readers will feel they know them personally. While reading, and experiencing the suspense that builds throughout, readers will feel they are living in the time period and will feel what people actually felt during Hitler’s rise to power. Even readers who aren’t particularly interested in that time period will find themselves on the edges of their seats.

This first Elena Standish novel is excellent and will have readers anticipating the next installment. It includes some of the history that isn’t being taught in modern colleges, and, even though Elena is fictional, the background and historical information is factual and everyone can learn from this book, as well as be entertained with good writing, a good story, and good characters.

Special thanks to NetGalley for supplying a review copy of this book.
Was this review helpful?
This is the start of a new series during pre World War II in Europe. It took awhile to sort out all the different characters. Elena travels to Italy with her sister,Margot to attend a convention and meets Ian. The mystery begins when a man is murdered at Elena's hotel. Other murders will happen, one in which Elena is said to have done. The culprit behind the murders is quite easy to figure out just not the motive. There are parts that are confusing and others that are unrealistic. Elena's past relationship is mentioned several times with no explanation which is annoying. Hopefully the next book will expand on some background of Elena's grandparents.
Was this review helpful?
When I read the description of "Death in Focus", I was very optimistic.  It sounded like just the type of series I've been drawn to in the past.  Set in the time between the 1st and 2nd World Wars was also intriguing, as so many books lately have focused on World War 2.  I finished, but won't be recommending or reading future books in the series.  There were just too many plot points that relied on coincidence and characters spilling all kinds of details.  I"m willing to suspend disbelief, but this is to the genre for that.
Was this review helpful?
The first book in a new series and I hope it will continue.
Anne Perry  in her easy readable style managed to bring to life some of the events taking place in the aftermath of World War I around 1933.  For many people who have lost a loved one the hurt is still very much present and everybody has their own way of dealing with it.  We see the increase of popularity of Hitler in Germany and how easy it is  to become caught up in the situation.  Not only in Germany but in England, France and the Nederland's Hitler had his believers.  They saw him improving the economy and making the train system punctual.  What can be easier then to blame Jews and Gypsies for your bad luck and poverty.  The ending was a bit of a surprise but it was a good ending.
Was this review helpful?
I received this book as an advance reading copy through Netgalley. 

I've been a big fan of Anne Perry for years and this book does not disappoint. It's different--somewhat more of an thriller than a mystery and set in the 1930s, but no less amazing. I can see how people who just want a straight up mystery or a brainless escape might not enjoy it, but I loved it. It's quite fast paced and several scenes were very creepy without resorting to just graphic violence. While the character of Elena was not one that resonated with me right away, she started the grow on me, especially in conjunction with several of the other main characters. 

The detail in the history and the way we get to see each characters mind go through the process of absorbing what was going on in the 1930s in Germany was very engaging. Ms. Perry, as usual, delves into the human psyche and shows us the dark and the light. She holds nothing back when depicting the mindsets that led (and lead) people to support authoritarians. At points I was not sure where the mystery ended and the roman à clef began. I look forward to further developments in this series.
Was this review helpful?
A new mystery series by Anne Perry could not wait to read.My expectations were met this was an edge of your seat thriller characters that come alive.Already looking forward to next in the series.#netgalley#randomhouse
Was this review helpful?
I had trouble getting into this book and sticking with it until the end. I skipped parts of it and didn't feel I missed much. This book had a lot of potential; I liked the premise and the characters. However, it felt disjointed and seemed to need another draft.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
Fans of Anne Perry's historical mysteries will find much to like in the first volume of a new series. Set just prior to World War II, the novel features  a young and energetic female protagonist, Elena Standish. Elena comes from a family with high-level ties to the British diplomatic and intelligence services, but her own professional interest is photography and her camera is always close by. While on holiday in Italy with her sister, Elena becomes infatuated with Ian, a fascinating young man with whom she agrees to travel by train. Their pleasant trip  takes a tragic and gruesome turn, forcing Elena to undertake a terrifying, life-threatening journey carrying a secret message to Berlin involving the assassination of a high-ranking German public figure.The action is nonstop as the thriller unfolds, but the exciting plot details can't make up for superficial character development among a potentially interesting cast. Hopefully readers will get to know Elena and company more thoroughly in future adventures. Note: The publisher supplied an advance reading copy via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
Was this review helpful?