by Ellie Midwood
Publication Date: May 15, 2020
Paperback & eBook
Series: Metropolis, Book 2
Genre: Historical Fiction
Weimar Berlin, 1927
Having recovered from the hyperinflation, the decadent metropolis is prospering against all odds. Unbothered by the turbulent events of the previous years, Berlin plunges into an orgy of life, entirely oblivious to the dangerous signs of an upcoming catastrophe.
Much like the rest of Berlin’s artistic elite, Margot von Steinhoff is too preoccupied with her work on the set of the infamous Fritz Lang, to pay attention to the dark shadow of the nationalistic threat hanging over the city. When Ernst Weniger, her former lover and now an official NKVD officer, asks for her help in aiding the German communists, she refuses at first, choosing to stay apolitical, just like Lang. However, when the new Gauleiter of Berlin, Joseph Goebbels, arrives in the city and begins his relentless campaign of harassment and misinformation, Margot realizes that staying neutral is no longer an option. Playing on the wrong side can cost her not only her career but her freedom, yet Margot has never been more certain of her choice.
“I don’t read political newspapers, Margot. I only want to make my films… I don’t want to have anything to do with all those politics.”
“I don’t want to have anything to do with them either. But the sad fact is that sometimes politics wants to have everything to do with us, regardless of our desires. At some point, all of us will have to take sides. The good news, Fritz, is that I’ll always be on yours.”
Dark, gritty, yet full of hope, “Spies” is the novel of the doomed Weimar Republic and the last generation of free-thinking artists who lived and created their masterpieces in a city, on the verge of collapse.
“Fritz, I don’t know if you’ve heard yet, or not—” Margot paused in her tracks at the sight of a familiar gentleman, who rose from his seat, at once, as soon as he saw her stepping through the doors of the living room.
Though, it was a questionable matter, whether or not such a term – gentleman – could have been applied to him. To be sure, he was attired with great taste, in a three-piece-suit of the best quality. The heavy golden cufflinks that Margot remembered so well from the set, where she had first encountered him, were still gleaming softly in his cuffs. In his silk tie, a diamond pin sat handsomely. He even wore glasses that ordinarily softened anyone’s look, yet, the look in his eyes was thoroughly hawkish and the entire manner, in which he moved toward her to take her hand and kiss it, exuded a sort of dark, predatorial energy.
“Seymour Nebenzahl,” he announced his name when Lang didn’t. “The President of Nero-Film. I apologize for not introducing myself when we first met, Gräfin. It’s an honor to finally make your acquaintance.”
“So it is mine, Herr Nebenzahl,” Margot answered mechanically.
She’d never heard of any Nero-Film but the mention of a legal operation was comforting. Before that, she was of the strong opinion that the man was a gangster of one sort or another. Now, at least his presence here was somewhat justified.
“Have I interrupted something?” Just then did Margot notice papers scattered all over the conference table. No coffee or drinks stood on it – an uncharacteristically rude gesture on Lang’s part, who was famous for his Austrian hospitality. “I can wait for you two to finish with your business.”
“That won’t be necessary.” Fritz’s icy tone only confirmed Margot’s suspicions. Lang wanted the man out of his apartment and the sooner the better. “Herr Nebenzahl was just leaving.”
He looked at his guest rather pointedly.
Not in the least offended, Nebenzahl collected the papers from the table and bowed, holding his hat pressed against his chest in the most respectful of manners.
“Gräfin, it was a pleasure to meet you. Maestro.” Another bow, this time somewhat mocking. “You take care now and I’ll be seeing you very soon.”
Margot patiently waited for Lang to see him out but rose to her feet, as soon as Fritz returned to the room. “Who was that and what did he want with you?”
Lang replied with a vague, negligent wave of his hand. Don’t worry yourself about him.
“Coffee?” he asked instead, smiling pleasantly. “My signature one, Viennese. With cinnamon this time – you can’t possibly say no to that.”
Margot shifted restlessly from one foot to another. The coffee was the furthest thing from her mind at that moment.
“Fritz, I don’t know if you heard yet or not,” she began once again, her voice betraying itself with a slight tremor.
“About the pending criminal case?” he asked.
There was such nonchalance in his voice, Margot stood blinking at him for some time, at a loss for an explanation.
“Fritz, you ought to give me your gun, in case they come here with a search warrant. I’ll get rid of it at once and no one shall ever find it.” The words began to tumble out of her as she paced the carpet. “And as for the story, we’ll just tell them that after we had dinner at the Resi, we went straight to my place, where we stayed until the next morning. Easton is long gone – no one will interrogate him. And as for the den itself, they never incriminate their customers and particularly the ones with money. When the police come, we’ll just tell them—”
“Margot, Margot.” Lang raised his hand in the air to stop her. A shadow of a somewhat-sad, somewhat-amused grin passed over his face. “You needn’t worry yourself over all these trifles. Everything’s being taken care of.”
At first, the meaning of his words didn’t quite register with Margot.
“What’s being taken care of?” she finally asked, softly and incredulously. “Do you not understand that they want to put you in jail? And if not in jail, then on trial at the very least. They will ruin your entire career, Fritz. They will take Spies from you!”
“A person hasn’t been born yet, who can take Fritz Lang’s film.” To Margot’s great astonishment, he appeared to be fascinatingly unconcerned about the entire affair. “And as for the trial, that won’t happen either.”
“Fritz, I don’t understand…”
With infinite tenderness, he brushed her cheek with his fingers. “You don’t have to understand anything, angel. Let me make you that coffee instead and let’s talk about the train-crash scene. Our evil mastermind Haghi still isn’t done with our poor hero, Agent 326. Now that all his other plans have failed, he’ll try to liquidate him by some other means. I’ll tell you how I want to film it and you tell me if it can be done. What do you say to that?”
Still completely at a loss, Margot had nothing else to do but stay in the living room, pet the soft heads of the dachshunds restlessly while Lang was making his coffee in the kitchen and wonder what was in those Nebenzahl’s papers on which, she could swear, she saw Fritz’s signature, in ink.
About the Author
Ellie Midwood is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning historical fiction author. She owes her interest in the history of the Second World War to her grandfather, Junior Sergeant in the 2nd Guards Tank Army of the First Belorussian Front, who began telling her about his experiences on the frontline when she was a young girl. Growing up, her interest in history only deepened and transformed from reading about the war to writing about it. After obtaining her BA in Linguistics, Ellie decided to make writing her full-time career and began working on her first full-length historical novel, “The Girl from Berlin.” Ellie is continuously enriching her library with new research material and feeds her passion for WWII and Holocaust history by collecting rare memorabilia and documents.
In her free time, Ellie is a health-obsessed yoga enthusiast, neat freak, adventurer, Nazi Germany history expert, polyglot, philosopher, a proud Jew, and a doggie mama. Ellie lives in New York with her fiancé and their Chihuahua named Shark Bait.
Blog Tour Schedule
Saturday, June 6
Review at Reading is My Remedy
Monday, June 8
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, June 9
Review at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, June 10
Excerpt at What Is That Book About
Friday, June 12
Interview at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals
Monday, June 15
Review at Books, Cooks, Looks
Monday, June 22
Review at Donna’s Book Blog
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