Here’s a story for you.
In the mid-1990s, I got an idea for a novella in which a detective arrests Adolf Hitler for murdering his niece, thus stopping Hitler’s rise to power. But I couldn’t wrap my brain around how to tell this story. Because, honestly, if Hitler got arrested in the early 1930s, the detective wouldn’t know it was an important arrest. Hitler would have been just another political thug–and there were many of them in Germany at the time–arrested for murder.
So I wrote the story as a mystery, partially in flashback, to provide context. And I sold the novel to St. Martin’s Press, which changed the title from Consecrated Ground to Hitler’s Angel. The editor who bought the book made the change–and that’s all. He never submitted the book to production. He bought it, he got me the contract, I got paid. But no book. No copy edits, no proofing, nothing.
This editor made this same “mistake” on about 30 other novels. Needless to say he got fired. A year after screwing up our books.
The only other thing this guy did do was work with the sales force to set a publication date. This detail is important. Because, when my wonderful new editor came on board, the excellent Kelley Ragland (with whom I worked on six other books later), she had to contend with the already existing pub date. It was impossible to meet that date. I think she came on the project just a month before the book was to see print.
So St. Martins moved the pub date forward one year. No big deal. I’ve had that happen on other books. But… But… here’s where it gets dicey.
Fast forward one year. St. Martins publishes Hitler’s Angel, my first mystery novel, under the name Kris Rusch. All the wonderful independent bookstores order it. The chains do not. Why? Because, according to their computerized ordering system, they had ordered copies the year before and none of those copies sold. Never mind that the book’s pub date got moved. Never mind that the book did not exist yet. The computers said they had ordered, and nothing sold, so why should they reorder?
They didn’t. And in its first U.S. edition, Hitler’s Angel sold 500 copies. Seriously. 500 copies. And nothing anyone could say could change the ordering system or get the book into bookstores.
So if you own an original edition of Hitler’s Angel, it is a collector’s edition.
But if you want to read the book, it’s being reissued in English (it’s been published in Italy and in Israel) this week by John Blake Publishing, in their Maxcrime line. This is a British line, so you can only order it through British channels. I’ve put the link to two places below. I’m sure there are others as well. A few U.S. bookstores are trying to get copies, and if they do, I’ll let you know.
The current edition is the author-preferred edition–the St. Martins book also made an error in printing that turned out to be significant, and I’ve corrected that. (If you’re curious, they inverted all my italics. Once you see the book, you’ll understand why this is important.) So finally, a copy of Hitler’s Angel, going out in real numbers, with an absolutely gorgeous cover.
Here’s the back cover copy:
‘SO WE HAVE BLOOD AND A SUPPOSED BODY. WITH ALL THE DEATHS AND RIOTS IN MUNICH, YOU BELIEVED THIS TO BE IMPORTANT?’ THE SERGEANT LICKED HIS LIPS, SWALLOWED, AND THEN SAID, “THE DEAD GIRL, SIR. THE DEAD GIRL, SHE IS HERR HITLER’S NIECE.’
This much is true: Hitler was obsessed with his young niece, Geli Raubal. On 19th September, 1931, two years before he came to power, Geli was found dead of a gunshot wound in Hitler’s apartment in an exclusive area of Munich. Her death was ruled a suicide, but the suspicion of murder remained long after she had been laid to rest.
In 1972, Annie Pohlmann, a young American student, arrives in Germany to interview retired detective Fritz Stecher, who headed the original investigation. She gets more than she bargained for when Stecher reveals the whole story of a case that not only nearly killed him, but almost changed the course of history.
A thrilling and twisting tale set in a dark and fateful time in history, Hitler’s Angel is the stunning new novel by the award-winning American crime writer Kris Rusch.
Or order directly from the publisher, John Blake Publishing.