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A Trace of Smoke
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The echoes of my footfalls faded into the damp air of the Hall of the Unnamed Dead as I paused to stare at the framed photograph of a man.  He was laid out against a river bank, dark slime wrapped around his sculpted arms and legs.  Even through the paleness and rigidity of death, his face was beautiful.  A small, dark mole graced the left side of his cleft chin.  His dark eyebrows arched across his forehead like bird wings, and his long hair, dark now with water, streamed out behind him.

Watery morning light from high windows illuminated the neat grid of black and white photographs lining the walls of the Alexanderplatz police station.  One hundred frames displayed the faces and postures of Berlin’s most recent unclaimed dead.  Every Monday the police changed out the oldest photographs to make room for the latest editions of those who carried no identification, as was too often the case in Berlin since the Great War.

My eyes darted to the words under the photograph that had called to me.  Fished from the water by a sightseeing boat the morning of  Saturday, May 30, 1931, the day before yesterday.  Apparent cause of death: stab wound to the heart.  Under distinguishing characteristics they listed a heart-shaped tattoo on his lower back which said Father.  No identification present.
I needed none.  I knew the face as well as my own, or my sister Ursula’s, with our own square jaws and cleft chins. I wore my dark blonde hair cut short into a bob, but he wore his long, like our mother, like any woman of a certain age, although he was neither a woman nor of a certain age.  He was my baby brother, Ernst.

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Note from the author coming soon...

About Rebecca

A few years ago I quit my job, sold my house, and moved to Hawaii to write a novel because, at seven, I decided that I would be a writer.

I now have a two book contract from Tor for a mystery series set in Berlin in the 1930s. A Trace of Smoke is due out in...

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