The Altar Girl by Orest Stelmach
This prequel is a wonderful introduction to the Nadia Tesla series.
Publisher’s Description: The daughter of uncompromising Ukrainian immigrants, Nadia was raised to respect guts, grit, and tradition. When the events around the seemingly accidental death of her estranged godfather don’t add up, Nadia is determined to discover the truth—even if she attracts the attention of dangerous men intent on finding out what she knows through any means possible.
Her investigation leads her to her hometown and to the people least likely to welcome her back: her family.
In this thrilling prequel to the Nadia Tesla series, Nadia must try to solve the mystery surrounding her godfather’s death—and his life. The answers to her questions are buried with the secrets of her youth and in post–World War II refugee camps. What Nadia learns will change her life forever.
Possible spoilers beyond this point.
Agent Annie says…
This is the first of the series that I have read. I feel it worked well to read it before any of the others. There are 3 more in the series, which I plan on reading.
The author created characters I could empathize with and really got to their emotional status with regard to their family relationships. I like the main character very much. She is defined by her 1st generation Ukrainian up-bringing but also has that New York City girl grit, too. When a person grows up in a dysfunctional family, those characteristics don’t go away when you are an adult. Orest Stelmach created a very believable heroine.
I was intrigued by the historical information about the displaced persons that were basically refugees that fled Russia and ended up in Western Europe at the end of the war but none of the Allied countries wanted to take them in. This was a real eye-opener for me since so much of WWII history is focused on the treatment of the Jews or the starvation of the Russian Army. I particularly liked the detail about the PLAST that Nadia had to undergo as a child in order to be truly accepted into her community.
I also thought the mystery was particularly good and kept me guessing as to what would happen next.
I give this book 5 stars. It’s a great mystery and is an excellent example of the genre.