Tuesday 18 July 2023

On The Train - Rebecca Cantrell - A Hannah Vogel Short Story

On The Train
A Hannah Vogel Short Story

This is another very good short story by Rebecca Cantrell. I stumbled across two eBook stories by Cantrell while doing research for a different review. I picked up both this one and The Man in the Attic, without reading anything about them. I grabbed them just as a fan of the works of Cantrell I had already read. I could tell based on the covers that they were related and likely related to WWII events. The description of this story states:

“Third Reich, winter of 1943.

Fascist ideology has turned to boot and rifle, tank and rail, pulling more and more of Europe into its borders and cleansing it of impurities and undesirables. The Nazis are organized, industrious, systematic. They capture, sort, and ship the riffraff to camps by rail. Depending on their label, they are forced to feed the war machine as laborers if they are deemed useful, or the crematorium smoke stacks if they are not.

Joachim Rosen finds himself on such a train. He survived the last camp by being careful and unremarkable, and is grimly determined to survive the next the same way. But his plans and his resolve are shaken when another prisoner recognizes him from his life before and threatens him with dangerous truth, reckless hope.

There were, after all, always those who would not comply; those who chose to resist the machine—to fight, to flee, to die. On that slow and inevitable track, Joachim must choose whether to cling to his careful plan, or reclaim his humanity with a simple, courageous, possibly fatal gesture. Time is running out. He is reaching his final destination, on the train.

This short story originally appeared in the FIRST THRILLS anthology, edited by Lee Child, and is approximately 15 pages long.”

Each year I try and read a volume about the Holocaust, and Some I have returned to multiple times like Elie Wiesel’s Night trilogy. Even the most casual student of history would recognize the cover of this volume. As such there was a few clear ideas of what the story was about and where it was going. I had also previously picked up the First Thrills anthology, mainly because of Cantrell’s offering and in part because of Lee Child as editor, but had not got around to reading it yet. 

This whole story takes place on a train ride to Auschwitz. It focuses around two men that know each other. One wearing a yellow star and the other a pink triangle. One Jewish and the other tagged as Guy, but who was both gay and Jewish. I have encountered other stories about the different markings for the prisoners of the camps. 

I have now read a few stories by Cantrell over the last few months, prior to that it had been seven years since I read a book by her. Back in 2015 I read a few of the Order of the Sanguines series co-written with James Rollins, that was shortly before a major work project and then a switch in jobs and her works fell off my radar. After reading her excellent collection, Yuletide Thrills, short stories I picked up this and 2 of her other volumes. I now plan to read all of her published works, both those under this name and the two under the pen name, Bekka Black. This is a good short story, well written. So I encourage you to pick this up and give it a try, but be warned you might become addicted to Cantrell’s stories and end up with many of her books on your wish list or ‘to be read’ pile. 

Books by Rebecca Cantrell:
Cigarette Boy and Other Stories

Joe Tesla Series:
The World Beneath
The Tesla Legacy
The Chemistry of Death
The Steel Shark

Hannah Vogel Series:
A Trace of Smoke 
A Night of Long Knives 
A Game of Lies 
A City of Broken Glass 
A Time of Night and Fog (Omnibus Edition)
Hannah Vogel Short Stories\Novella’s:
Cigarette Boy

As Bekka Black:
iMonster Series:

The Order of the Sanguines Trilogy with James Rollins:
0.5 City of Screams
2.0 Innocent Blood
3.0 Blood Infernal

Tucker Wayne Series with Grant Blackwood:
The Kill Switch
War Hawk

Malibu Mystery Series with Sean Black:
"A" is for Actress or "A" is for Asshat 
"B" is for Bad Girls 
"C" is for Coochy Coo 
"D" is for Drunk 
"E" is for Exposed 
"F" is for Fred 
"G" is for Groovy 

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