Everyone has ties to the famous star found murdered in her dress room.
But who had enough cause to kill her?
The Nazis have taken over East Europe and no one of the Jewish faith is safe. Even in New York where Jewish Stella Berger dazzles audiences with her charm and feminine prowess, antisemitic and racist remarks are careless hurled around. What left the star dead? A personal vendetta or the opportunity to silence the woman who dares to fight against Nazi oppression?
Like any classic who-done-it, Goldstein weaves a deep and thrilling tale of murder in Death of a Diva. It didn’t take long to become enveloped in the life and death of Stella Berger and of the oppression that surrounds the Jewish characters in 1940’s New York. Goldstein’s writing carelessly flows from era to era, character to character. Who else to tell the story of a larger than life star than the many colourful characters that were affected by her life.
From the Hungarian violinist who was her oldest friend and mentor to the young usher whose life is turned upside down by her murder, each characters’ story, and more importantly Stella’s story, is set and framed within the murder investigation.
In the end, who could have silenced the brilliant star?
A veteran actress’s brutal murder at a Broadway theater in 1941 sets off a police investigation that reaches back to pre-WWI Vienna and 1920s Berlin in Brigitte Goldstein’s densely plotted noir mystery novel, Death of a Diva.
In 1941 New York, the murder on Broadway of Stella Berger, famed star of screen and stage of Weimar Germany and outspoken critic of the Nazi regime which had forced her into exile, sends shock waves through the American public.
The police act quickly, and the prime suspect, an emigrant street musician, is tried and put on death row. But Misia Safran, a young Jewish refugee from Germany and part-time employee at the theater who becomes inadvertently involved in the investigation, is haunted by the possibility of his innocence and a suspicion that there’s more to the case than meets the eye.
Determined to uncover the truth, Misia delves into Stella’s background. She patches together the life of the revered actress from testimony by those who had been closest to her throughout her rise to stardom.
From accounts of her humble origins in a Viennese ghetto to her rise to the pinnacle in the acting world of 1920’s Berlin, to her battle with Nazi propagandist Josef Goebbels, emerges the portrait of a woman of great strength of character and resolve, albeit one that conceals a vulnerable side which ultimately may have been the cause of her undoing.
As Misia cuts through a bewildering thicket of lies, hidden agendas, and deceptions, she is met with intimations of a deep secret in Stella’s past, evidence of which may be stored in the vault of a Swiss bank. If made public, this secret could provide the clue to the mystery, but could also destroy the star’s carefully guarded public persona.
Brigitte Goldstein is a native of Germany and has had a lifelong passion for literature and history. As an undergraduate at Towson University in Maryland, she focused on both areas with particular emphasis on the development of the culture and civilization of Western Europe from the Early Middle Ages to modern times. She went on to graduate studies at New York University in European intellectual and social history as well as the history of modern Germany, for which she earned a Ph.D. degree. Before coming to the United States, she studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, and received a certificate in the study of French Civilization in the areas of the literature, history, philosophy, and art of France from the medieval to the modern period. She has taught college-level courses in Western Civilization, European Social History, and the History of European Women.
In the course of her studies, Brigitte developed a particular interest in the mentality and living conditions of ordinary people in the past and the influence of historical forces on their lives that lie beyond their control. Dissatisfied with the trend in historical studies of applying prefabricated paradigms to the past made to serve as procrustean beds into which historical events are made to fit, the idea ripened in her mind to combine her twin interests and put the story back into history through the writing of fiction. A vivid narrative of the trial and tribulations of fictional, yet flesh-and-blood characters within a particular historical setting which faithfully reflects the events, customs, way of life and thinking of the past and peppered with all the dramatic elements of love and friendship, conflict and betrayal, she concluded, was the exciting stuff of historical fiction into which she could pour her creative juices and a wide readership could enjoy.