The Commandant’s Daughter by Catherine Hokin

Today, Mandie share her thoughts on The Commandant’s Daughter by Catherine Hokin as part of the blog tour. With thanks to publisher Bookouture for the including us in the tour and providing the advance copy for review:

Source: Netgalley
Release Date: 26 January 2022
Publisher: Bookouture

About the Book

‘What is this place?’ She lowers her camera and takes in the frail bodies and desolate faces staring back at her.

‘It’s hell on earth. Where the desperate abandon their last hope.’

In that moment, she knows that taking pictures is not enough, she has to help these people…

1933, Berlin. Ten-year-old Hanni Foss stands by her father watching the celebrations marking Adolf Hitler as Germany’s new leader. As the torchlights fade, she knows her safe and happy childhood is about to change forever. Practically overnight, the father she adores is lost to his ruthless ambition to oversee an infamous concentration camp…

Twelve years later. As the Nazi regime crumbles, Hanni hides from her father on the fringes of Berlin. In stolen moments, she develops the photographs she took to record the brutality of the camp – the empty food bowls and hungry eyes – and vows to get justice for the innocent people she couldn’t help as a child.

But on the day she plans to deliver these damning photographs to the Allies, Hanni comes face to face with her father again. Reiner Foss is now working with the British forces, his past safely hidden behind a new identity. He makes it clear that he will go to deadly lengths to protect his secrets, but Hanni knows she can’t give up her fight. But what will she have to sacrifice in order to keep the promise she made?

A heartbreaking novel about the incredible courage of ordinary people during the Second World War. Fans of The Alice Network, The Nightingale and The Tattooist of Auschwitz will never forget this powerful story of hope and humanity.

Mandie’s Thoughts

When Hanni Foss witnesses for herself the atrocities that her own father is involved in during the war she makes a vow to herself that somehow she will ensure that he pays for his crimes. When the war is over she takes her mothers maiden name to distance herself from him and finds a quiet job working in a photographic studio. When she comes across the body of a murders SS officer she soon finds herself working closely with Freddy Schlussel, an Inspector in the reformed police force who is also hiding his true heritage. As more former SS officers are murdered they both have to decide if they really want the perpetrator to be captured or if their brand of vengeance would save everyone else the time and effort to bring them to justice.

I have to admit that at the start of this book I was unsure where it was going to lead, if the murders of the SS officers or Hanni bringing her father to justice was going to be the main thread and I think that it was this initial uncertainty that kept me turning page after page. In a time where it was still unsure who could be trusted and the country was being run by different authority, the politics of who was in charge where and how much co operation they would give was certainly at times a bit of a hinderance to the investigations.

I enjoyed watching both the personal and professional lives of Hanni and Freddy as they developed. With both of them trying to keep their past a secret but their connection very evident there were times that you wondered if their differences were just too much. Freddy’s anger at the victims and their families was understandable and you could feel him having to rein in his private thoughts in order to get the job done. Hanni frustrated me in as much for all her compassion for Freddy and her determination to see justice done, when it came to letting the world know about her father she is not as brave. Whilst I can understand that thanks to the stories her father has managed to tell she is concerned for her own safety I can only hope that she eventually manages to do the right thing.

As this is the first in a series of books featuring Hanni and Freddy it will be interesting to see how their relationship develops and if indeed Hanni will ever reveal her past to him and get the justice for her fathers’ victims.

About the Author

Catherine Hokin is the author of two World War Two inspired novels set in Berlin, her favourite city. Following a History degree at Manchester University she worked in teaching, marketing and politics, while waiting for a chance to do what she really wanted which was to write full time. Her short stories have been published by iScot, Writers Forum and Myslexia magazines and she was the winner of the 2019 Fiction 500 Short Story Competition. She is a lover of strong female leads and a quest.

Catherine now lives in Glasgow with her American husband. She has two grown-up children – one of whom lives, very conveniently, in Berlin – and a life long addiction to very loud music.

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