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Defending Britta Stein

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One of Newsweek's 20 New Books to Cozy Up With this Fall Defending Britta Stein is a story of bravery, betrayal, and redemption—from Ronald H. Balson, the winner of the National Jewish Book Award Chicago, 2018: Ole Henryks, a popular restauranteur, is set to be honored by the Danish/American Association for his many civic and charitable contributions. Frequently appearing on One of Newsweek's 20 New Books to Cozy Up With this Fall Defending Britta Stein is a story of bravery, betrayal, and redemption—from Ronald H. Balson, the winner of the National Jewish Book Award Chicago, 2018: Ole Henryks, a popular restauranteur, is set to be honored by the Danish/American Association for his many civic and charitable contributions. Frequently appearing on local TV, he is well known for his actions in Nazi-occupied Denmark during World War II—most consider him a hero. Britta Stein, however, does not. The ninety-year-old Chicago woman levels public accusations against Henryks by spray-painting “Coward,” “Traitor,” “Collaborator,” and “War Criminal” on the walls of his restaurant. Mrs. Stein is ultimately taken into custody and charged with criminal defacement of property. She also becomes the target of a bitter lawsuit filed by Henryks and his son, accusing her of defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Attorney Catherine Lockhart, though hesitant at first, agrees to take up Mrs. Stein's defense. With the help of her investigator husband, Liam Taggart, Lockhart must reach back into wartime Denmark and locate evidence that proves Mrs. Stein's innocence. Defending Britta Stein is critically-acclaimed author Ronald H. Balson's thrilling take on a modern day courtroom drama, and a masterful rendition of Denmark’s wartime heroics.


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One of Newsweek's 20 New Books to Cozy Up With this Fall Defending Britta Stein is a story of bravery, betrayal, and redemption—from Ronald H. Balson, the winner of the National Jewish Book Award Chicago, 2018: Ole Henryks, a popular restauranteur, is set to be honored by the Danish/American Association for his many civic and charitable contributions. Frequently appearing on One of Newsweek's 20 New Books to Cozy Up With this Fall Defending Britta Stein is a story of bravery, betrayal, and redemption—from Ronald H. Balson, the winner of the National Jewish Book Award Chicago, 2018: Ole Henryks, a popular restauranteur, is set to be honored by the Danish/American Association for his many civic and charitable contributions. Frequently appearing on local TV, he is well known for his actions in Nazi-occupied Denmark during World War II—most consider him a hero. Britta Stein, however, does not. The ninety-year-old Chicago woman levels public accusations against Henryks by spray-painting “Coward,” “Traitor,” “Collaborator,” and “War Criminal” on the walls of his restaurant. Mrs. Stein is ultimately taken into custody and charged with criminal defacement of property. She also becomes the target of a bitter lawsuit filed by Henryks and his son, accusing her of defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Attorney Catherine Lockhart, though hesitant at first, agrees to take up Mrs. Stein's defense. With the help of her investigator husband, Liam Taggart, Lockhart must reach back into wartime Denmark and locate evidence that proves Mrs. Stein's innocence. Defending Britta Stein is critically-acclaimed author Ronald H. Balson's thrilling take on a modern day courtroom drama, and a masterful rendition of Denmark’s wartime heroics.

30 review for Defending Britta Stein

  1. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn

    Defending Britta Stein by Ronald H. Balson was a very powerful and captivating novel of historical fiction. I have read and have been quite impressed by all of the books that Ronald H. Balson has written and Defending Britta Stein was no exception. Ronald H. Balson has the immense talent to create vivid and memorable characters, a complex plot and set them within the boundaries of a time in history to recreate what happened long ago in an engaging way. Defending Britta Stein brought back the cha Defending Britta Stein by Ronald H. Balson was a very powerful and captivating novel of historical fiction. I have read and have been quite impressed by all of the books that Ronald H. Balson has written and Defending Britta Stein was no exception. Ronald H. Balson has the immense talent to create vivid and memorable characters, a complex plot and set them within the boundaries of a time in history to recreate what happened long ago in an engaging way. Defending Britta Stein brought back the characters of Catherine Lockhart and Liam Taggart, the husband and wife team of lawyer and investigator. They have notoriously accepted and defended the most difficult and hard to win cases over the years and defending Britta Stein could be perhaps their most challenging case so far. The book, Defending Britta Stein, was told alternating between present day Chicago (2018) and Britta’s oral account of her memories of her homeland of Denmark prior to the presence of the Nazis and during World War II. Britta Stein was a ninety-two year old woman and Bubbe on a mission to prove that Ole Henryks was not a war hero but in fact a “coward”, “traitor”, “collaborator “, and “war criminal”. It had been over 70 years since Britta had heard of or saw Ole. Britta had known Ole as Ole Hendrickson in Denmark. He must have changed his name when he arrived in America but she was sure that he was the same person that had destroyed her family and had carried out traitorous acts and had belonged to a Nazi sponsored organization. She had no idea that he had been living in Chicago all this time. When a newspaper revealed that he was to be honored by The Danish/American Association for his heroic and brave acts during World War II, Britta knew she had to let everyone know the truth about Ole. She could not allow him to be honored as a hero. Only she knew the truth about him and she had to let everyone else know who Ole really was back in Denmark during World War II. Britta decided that the best way to get her message out was to spray paint the words that described his character on the outside walls of his beloved and popular restaurant, The Melancholy Dane. Over the course of several nights, 92 year old Britta Stein, spray painted the words “coward”, “traitor “, “collaborator “ and “war criminal “ on the walls of Ole’s restaurant. Britta accomplished these feats late at night when the streets were deserted. A newly acquired surveillance camera finally captured her in the act. Britta was taken into custody and charged with criminal defacement of property. Ole and his son brought a lawsuit against Britta. The people of Chicago admired Ole for his civic and charitable contributions over the years. Why was this crazy old woman accusing Ole of these terrible things and especially now? Ole had always been looked up to as a hero and for saving the lives of so many Jewish Danes when the Nazis inflicted the deportation orders. It was only right that The Danish/American Association was honoring Ole and admitting him into their Hall of Fame. For these reasons, Ole and his son, brought a lawsuit against Britta for deformation and intentional inflection of emotional distress. After all, Ole was ninety-five years old and had been in this country since 1947. Britta and her beloved granddaughter, Emma, hoped that Catherine Lockhart and Liam Taggart would help Britta prove that Ole was indeed the traitor and war criminal he was. Would Catherine agree to take on Britta’s case and if so would Liam be able to gather enough physical evidence to prove that Britta was right in her accusations? All the characters in Defending Britta Stein were fictional but Denmark’s role and story was accurately depicted in this book. In the acknowledgement section of Defending Britta Stein, Ronald H. Balson described the inspiring reaction the people of Denmark had to the Nazi deportation orders for their Jewish countrymen. “As a country, they came together to hide, protect and ultimately rescue 7,200 of their Jewish brethren from certain death.” It was so emotional to read how as country, and the only country in all of Europe, the Danes banned together to save their fellow Jewish countrymen. Those brave Danes were honored at Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in the Garden of the Righteous Among Nations. Some of the people mentioned in Defending Britta Stein were real people. There were several Danish members of Parliament who went on to serve Denmark as Prime Ministers. Many of the German Nazi SS were real and played significant roles in Denmark’s history during World War II. There were actually several very brave young Danes who were part of the youth resistance clubs. The Churchill Club and Hvidsten Clubs were so important in sabotaging bridges, munition and trains that carried war essentials to Germany. Ronald H. Balson succeeded in writing another captivating and powerful novel. I highly recommend this book. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press through Netgalley for allowing me to read this advanced copy of Defending Britta Stein. All opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Publication is set for September 7, 2021.

  2. 4 out of 5

    MicheleReader

    Author Ronald H. Balson treats us to another excellent book featuring the characters of Catherine Lockhart and Liam Taggart, the husband and wife team of lawyer and investigator. Defending Britta Stein is book number six in the series and is another absorbing story told in dual timelines. In present day (2018), Ole Henryks, a ninety-five-year-old man who owns a successful tavern, is about to be honored by the Danish-American Association of Chicago for his heroism during World War II and his role Author Ronald H. Balson treats us to another excellent book featuring the characters of Catherine Lockhart and Liam Taggart, the husband and wife team of lawyer and investigator. Defending Britta Stein is book number six in the series and is another absorbing story told in dual timelines. In present day (2018), Ole Henryks, a ninety-five-year-old man who owns a successful tavern, is about to be honored by the Danish-American Association of Chicago for his heroism during World War II and his role in saving many Jewish residents of Denmark from the Nazis. After this accolade makes the local news, someone paints on the wall of his restaurant – Liar, Informer, Traitor, Nazi collaborator, Nazi agent, Betrayer. It is soon discovered that the person spray-painting these words is ninety-two-year-old Britta Stein. Catherine Lockhart is persuaded to defend Britta in a defamation suit against her. Catherine needs to prove that what Britta wrote on the wall is true but she knows it will be an uphill battle. Catherine wants to get the details as to how Britta is so sure that Ole is not the hero he says he is but Britta wants to tell her complete story to both Catherine and her granddaughter Emma, also an attorney. This engaging book shifts to Denmark and the start of the war. Denmark entered into a unique occupation agreement with Germany which allowed the country's political institutions and its king to remain in relative control under its rule. This agreement changed in 1943 as the Germans saw growing hostility and decided it was time to get the Danes in line and also remove its Jewish population. Both the historical side of the book as well as the present-day legal proceedings makes for a riveting read. The relationship that develops between Catherine and Britta is very touching as well as Emma’s discovery of her beloved “Bubbe’s” history. The main characters are all fictional but the story of how the Danish people supported their small Jewish community through the worst of times is true and brought tears to my eyes. Defending Britta Stein is another winning book in a wonderful series. Rated 4.5 stars. Review posted on MicheleReader.com.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Upton

    3.5 stars I received an ARC of this book. I actually liked this story and the premises behind the book so I had a hard time deciding a rating. This book is slam full of information about the Danish during WW2. My problem with the book was the way the story was told. There is no way a 90+ year old woman could tell a story from over 70 years ago with that much detail. I enjoyed the details and her telling of the story but that made it seem false. Not false like she was telling it wrong but like a 3.5 stars I received an ARC of this book. I actually liked this story and the premises behind the book so I had a hard time deciding a rating. This book is slam full of information about the Danish during WW2. My problem with the book was the way the story was told. There is no way a 90+ year old woman could tell a story from over 70 years ago with that much detail. I enjoyed the details and her telling of the story but that made it seem false. Not false like she was telling it wrong but like a made up story for us to read. In my 30s I couldn't tell a story from 6 months ago with the detail she told her story. This maybe should have been one of those books with flashbacks or something so the entire story could be told and make sense with the amount of detail included. I do recommend the book and am glad I received a copy.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

    DEFENDING BRITTA STEIN: A NOVEL Ronal H Balson Britta Stein is a Danish immigrant of WWII who has lived her life rather quietly. She is a woman in her 90s and has of yet never told her family her story of her life in Denmark during the war. I don't know too many 90-year-old people who are as spry as this lady is, with a great memory and off and on physical abilities. At times she has enough power to walk from her home to the harbor and back and while we are not told the distance of this afternoo DEFENDING BRITTA STEIN: A NOVEL Ronal H Balson Britta Stein is a Danish immigrant of WWII who has lived her life rather quietly. She is a woman in her 90s and has of yet never told her family her story of her life in Denmark during the war. I don't know too many 90-year-old people who are as spry as this lady is, with a great memory and off and on physical abilities. At times she has enough power to walk from her home to the harbor and back and while we are not told the distance of this afternoon walk, she requires assistance from the defendant's chair to the witness box. Amazingly she was also able to go six nights in a row to the plaintiff's business and spray paint graffiti on the side of his building at 3:30 in the morning. I was enamored of the WWII information, however, it was largely told as a narrative by Britta so lacked action or emotion. This was a strong narrative that seemed well researched. Also, I found the modern-day story a bit weak and at the least extremely contrived. In the lawsuit, it is the plaintiff's attorney that just didn't seem to ring true for me... this was supposed to be a "big-budget" attorney, yet he presented his case like a circus clown, loud and on fire. Based on the other books in this series that I have read, this one seemed to overshoot the mark and needed more words than necessary to do that. So, it was a conflicting read for me. I wanted to like this more than I ended up doing. In the past, I enjoyed Catherine and Liam as a legal power team, but this time even their relationship just seemed flat for me. Catherine just didn't seem up to her standards and there was not a great deal of interaction with Liam. The final verdict. 3 stars Happy Reading!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Defending Britta Stein by Ronald H. Balson is a great WWII-era historical fiction novel that has mystery, intrigue, suspense, history, and kept me interested from beginning to end. I really enjoyed this novel and the way the narrative played out from a dual-timeline perspective. I enjoyed the slowly unraveling of the past events, as the investigation and courtroom/legal battle proceeds. The author's ability to weave a tale that was intriguing, complex, and engaging, yet was easy to follow and app Defending Britta Stein by Ronald H. Balson is a great WWII-era historical fiction novel that has mystery, intrigue, suspense, history, and kept me interested from beginning to end. I really enjoyed this novel and the way the narrative played out from a dual-timeline perspective. I enjoyed the slowly unraveling of the past events, as the investigation and courtroom/legal battle proceeds. The author's ability to weave a tale that was intriguing, complex, and engaging, yet was easy to follow and appreciate was impressive. I enjoyed the full character cast and especially enjoyed the fabulous duo of Catherine Lockhart (attorney) and her spouse (and investigator) Liam Taggart. I thought the way the narrative was presented was exceptional and memorable. Anyone that is a historical fiction fan, and also a mystery/legal fiction fan, will truly enjoy this read. 5/5 stars Thank you NG and St. Martin's Press for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Monson

    Ronald H. Balson is truly a prolific historical fiction writer, and his ability to create sympathetic heroes (as well as monstrous villains) in World War II stories is incredible. While the premise of this book felt oddly similar to that of Once We Were Brothers, it played out differently and introduced me to a European experience of WWII that I was unfamiliar with— the Danish experience. As always, Catherine and Liam continue to be the perfect team, pulling off a defense worthy of a primetime d Ronald H. Balson is truly a prolific historical fiction writer, and his ability to create sympathetic heroes (as well as monstrous villains) in World War II stories is incredible. While the premise of this book felt oddly similar to that of Once We Were Brothers, it played out differently and introduced me to a European experience of WWII that I was unfamiliar with— the Danish experience. As always, Catherine and Liam continue to be the perfect team, pulling off a defense worthy of a primetime drama, but that’s how the novel reads. For any fans of legal dramas or historical fiction, I can’t recommend the Catherine Lockhart and Liam Taggert series highly enough, and Defending Britta Stein is no exception.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

    Ninety-two-year-old Britta Stein was charged with spray painting the restaurant of Ole Henryks once he was slated to be honored as a hero during WWII. Britta said he was not a hero...he was a Nazi collaborator. Britta needs an attorney, and Catherine Lockhart and Liam Taggert team up to defend her. DEFENDING BRITTA STEIN takes the reader to Denmark during the war with detailed information of the situation the citizens were under during the Nazi occupation. Very interesting to learn how Denmark deal Ninety-two-year-old Britta Stein was charged with spray painting the restaurant of Ole Henryks once he was slated to be honored as a hero during WWII. Britta said he was not a hero...he was a Nazi collaborator. Britta needs an attorney, and Catherine Lockhart and Liam Taggert team up to defend her. DEFENDING BRITTA STEIN takes the reader to Denmark during the war with detailed information of the situation the citizens were under during the Nazi occupation. Very interesting to learn how Denmark dealt with this part of history. The book goes back and forth in time as Britta tells the story of her life during the occupation and back to today as she prepares for her trial with Catherine, Liam, and her granddaughter, Emma. Britta also wants her story told so her granddaughter finally knows her family history which has been kept from Emma. Britta is definitely a feisty, enjoyable character. Between her and Mr. Balson's impeccable research, DEFENDING BRITTA STEIN is another winner for him. Any fan of Mr. Balson will not want to miss his newest. The way he has Britta telling her story, and how he ties the present-day situation into the past makes the book difficult to put down. His talent definitely shines through in DEFENDING BRITTA STEIN. 5/5 This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Marjorie

    Excellent book concerning an elderly woman's allegations against a beloved local bar owner for past Nazi collaboration. I've read numerous books about the Holocaust, though I don't remember reading any that took place in Denmark. I found the present-day story of the trial to be a bit contrived, while the back story of Britta's life in Denmark during WWII was completely fascinating. The courage and loyalty of the Denmark citizens was truly inspirational. Highly recommended. I won this book in a Go Excellent book concerning an elderly woman's allegations against a beloved local bar owner for past Nazi collaboration. I've read numerous books about the Holocaust, though I don't remember reading any that took place in Denmark. I found the present-day story of the trial to be a bit contrived, while the back story of Britta's life in Denmark during WWII was completely fascinating. The courage and loyalty of the Denmark citizens was truly inspirational. Highly recommended. I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne

    During the middle of the night 92-year-old Britta Stein spray paints Nazi, traitor and a couple other things on the side of a local bar, The Melancholy Dane. The owner is 95-year-old Ole Henryks who subsequently sues for defamation of character. He is about to be honored by the Danish-American Association in Chicago as a war hero for helping the Jews out of Denmark but Britta thinks differently. Britta is an amazing character. For her age she is full of life. She is heroic then and also now as s During the middle of the night 92-year-old Britta Stein spray paints Nazi, traitor and a couple other things on the side of a local bar, The Melancholy Dane. The owner is 95-year-old Ole Henryks who subsequently sues for defamation of character. He is about to be honored by the Danish-American Association in Chicago as a war hero for helping the Jews out of Denmark but Britta thinks differently. Britta is an amazing character. For her age she is full of life. She is heroic then and also now as she stands up for what she believes is right and fights for the truth to come out. She is assisted in her fight by her granddaughter, Emma, who is also a lawyer and becomes co-counsel with Catherine Lockhart. I did not realize that this was part of a series. It did not take away any enjoyment I had for the story itself but probably reading the previous books would help me understand the characters of Catherine and Liam more. Emma as a character was not well defined and hopefully she will make appearances in future books in the series. I would like to thank Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for providing me with a copy of this inspirational story.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Nutting

    Nobody does it better. Again, Mr Balson has written a poignant and well researched historical novel. This is a story depicting life in Denmark during World War II as a German protectorate. It is told by a 92 year old Jewish woman who is a feisty old devil - ya gotta love Britta! This was a real learning experience as I had no idea of the role Denmark played during the war - and it was significant. So glad the country is honored at Yad Vashim in Israel. I also find it interesting that two Holocaust Nobody does it better. Again, Mr Balson has written a poignant and well researched historical novel. This is a story depicting life in Denmark during World War II as a German protectorate. It is told by a 92 year old Jewish woman who is a feisty old devil - ya gotta love Britta! This was a real learning experience as I had no idea of the role Denmark played during the war - and it was significant. So glad the country is honored at Yad Vashim in Israel. I also find it interesting that two Holocaust cases have been in the news this past week involving a 92 year old woman and a 100 year old man. It made this novel seem so timely.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lynne

    A very interesting historical fiction book that takes place in Chicago and Denmark. I wasn’t aware of that aspect of the holocaust so enjoyed learning about it. I also enjoyed the legal aspect of the story and how nonagenarians are depicted as vibrant members of society and able to make contributions to their communities. Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bernadette

    This is the latest of the Catherine Lockhart/Liam Taggert mysteries, and the formula (Catherine represents a holocaust/WWII survivor in a present day lawsuit and the client uses the lawsuit prep to tell his or her particular WWII story) is getting old. Britta Stein's story was set in WWII Denmark, and although Denmark's Jews' experience was different from the experience of other German-occupied countries, there were several times in the book where I felt that I had read this exact Balson book be This is the latest of the Catherine Lockhart/Liam Taggert mysteries, and the formula (Catherine represents a holocaust/WWII survivor in a present day lawsuit and the client uses the lawsuit prep to tell his or her particular WWII story) is getting old. Britta Stein's story was set in WWII Denmark, and although Denmark's Jews' experience was different from the experience of other German-occupied countries, there were several times in the book where I felt that I had read this exact Balson book before. Balson is a good storyteller, and his fiction is well researched, but his next WWII novel needs a new format/structure.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    I just spent my entire evening enthralled in this book and it was well worth it. Britta Stein pulls you in with her story and the ensuing drama that occurs in the court case. 100% an entertaining read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This book was interesting and entertaining. I loved Britta and what she stood for. I really didn't know what Denmark went through during WWII. It was heartwarming to find out how wonderful the citizens of Denmark were, well most of them!! This book was interesting and entertaining. I loved Britta and what she stood for. I really didn't know what Denmark went through during WWII. It was heartwarming to find out how wonderful the citizens of Denmark were, well most of them!!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Latkovich Valente

    This was the first book of Ronald H. Balson that I have read, but it won't be the last. His historical research is impeccable in its accuracy and attention to detail. Interweaving the experience of Danes during World War II, you thought you were there. While this was a work of fiction, he was able to convey the real-life trauma of those days. As a fan of Chicago's restaurants, he could not have painted a better picture. You will not want to put this book down.. I understand that Mr. Balson is the This was the first book of Ronald H. Balson that I have read, but it won't be the last. His historical research is impeccable in its accuracy and attention to detail. Interweaving the experience of Danes during World War II, you thought you were there. While this was a work of fiction, he was able to convey the real-life trauma of those days. As a fan of Chicago's restaurants, he could not have painted a better picture. You will not want to put this book down.. I understand that Mr. Balson is the winner of the National Jewish Book Award - and rightfully so. I look forward to reading more of his work.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    I loved this book! This is not my typical read. I don’t like to read about the pain and atrocities inflicted upon the Jews during Hitler’s reign but I am so glad I did. Britta Stein is a strong fascinating woman in the twilight of her years when she does something outrageous. She goes out during the early hours of the night six different times and spray paints the walls of a restaurant! The first night “Traitor,” then “Nazi Agent,” each night they are removed and each night more appear, until sh I loved this book! This is not my typical read. I don’t like to read about the pain and atrocities inflicted upon the Jews during Hitler’s reign but I am so glad I did. Britta Stein is a strong fascinating woman in the twilight of her years when she does something outrageous. She goes out during the early hours of the night six different times and spray paints the walls of a restaurant! The first night “Traitor,” then “Nazi Agent,” each night they are removed and each night more appear, until she is caught. Really? The owner, a 95 year old man, is about to be honored as a war hero for his assisting the Jews to escape persecution during WWII, Britta is firm and pleads guilty to defacing property but will not back down about her claims that the owner Ole Henryks, an alias of Ole Hendricksen, is a Nazi collaborator, traitor and directly responsible for assisting the Nazis by turning in Jews to be sent to concentration camps or killed outright. Ole sues her for defamation of character and loudly proclaims his status of hero. Catherine Lockhart has agreed to defend Britta as she feels there is credence to her claim, but how do you prove something from over seventy years past? Britta claims she can tell her but she is 92 and wants to go at her own speed making sure Catherine has all the facts in order. Time is running out and secrets and pain and persecution take time to tell. With both parties in their 90’s a long trial is not an option so they must prove Britta’s words, somehow. What a great book, I highly recommend this to be your next read. The story will touch you and even though you want Britta to hurry up and “give the proof” and what could possibly be the proof? You must wait. Thank you NetGalley and Bookouture for the opportunity to read this advanced copy. This is my honest opinion.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Shirley McAllister

    Finding the Truth Britta's story was happy, sad, inspirational and tragic. The courage of her and her family both during the war and afterwards is commendable. Even in her ninety's Britta felt that a wrong needed to be righted and she was determined to see that it was. When she saw that Ole Henryks was going to be awarded a war medal for heroism in WWII for helping Jewish people escape the Nazi's she had to find a way to expose him for a Nazi collaborator. What a lesson in history of the country Finding the Truth Britta's story was happy, sad, inspirational and tragic. The courage of her and her family both during the war and afterwards is commendable. Even in her ninety's Britta felt that a wrong needed to be righted and she was determined to see that it was. When she saw that Ole Henryks was going to be awarded a war medal for heroism in WWII for helping Jewish people escape the Nazi's she had to find a way to expose him for a Nazi collaborator. What a lesson in history of the country of Denmark during WWII. I loved how the Danish people rallied around the Jewish people and saved thousands of them. I have heard of no other European country that did so much to help their Jewish citizens. I learned so much about a country that I had really not heard much about. The characters of Catherine and Emma were so compassionate toward Britta in letting her tell her story in her own way and in believing in her. Catherine's court room presentation was nothing short of awesome. I have read some of Ronald H. Balson's books and every one of them are wonderful stories..this one is no different. The author did a great job of telling this story. I enjoyed reading it and I would recommend it. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book, all opinions are my own Thanks to Ronald H. Balson, St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for allowing me to read a complimentary copy of the book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Mystery & Thriller

    In DEFENDING BRITTA STEIN, attorney Catherine Lockhart and her husband, private investigator Liam Taggert, are the actors whose actions bring about justice in an unlikely manner. As is standard in Ronald H. Balson's novels, there is a story within a story, and Catherine and Liam are the vehicles through which both plot lines are told. The storytelling is gripping, and the book showcases the unity and bravery of the Danish people in saving most of their population of Jews during World War II when In DEFENDING BRITTA STEIN, attorney Catherine Lockhart and her husband, private investigator Liam Taggert, are the actors whose actions bring about justice in an unlikely manner. As is standard in Ronald H. Balson's novels, there is a story within a story, and Catherine and Liam are the vehicles through which both plot lines are told. The storytelling is gripping, and the book showcases the unity and bravery of the Danish people in saving most of their population of Jews during World War II when the Germans chose to implement their Final Solution on the Jews of Denmark. DEFENDING BRITTA STEIN centers on well-known restaurateur Ole Henryks, who owns The Melancholy Dane, a popular eating spot on the North Side of Chicago. The Danish community is honoring him for his self-professed bravery and heroism during WWII when he ferried the Jews to Sweden and to safety. But when someone spray-paints defamatory words on the walls of his restaurant, he is bereft. "Traitor," "Nazi collaborator" and other slurs are left there night after night until he installs a video camera and catches Britta Stein, a diminutive 92-year-old woman, in the act. She is arrested, and he decides to sue her for defamation to restore his good name. But Britta is defiant, and her granddaughter, Emma, is desperate to get an attorney to represent her. Catherine meets with Britta, who almost proudly states that she was indeed the author of those words on the walls of The Melancholy Dane. She claims that what she wrote is all true, which would be a defense to the defamation accusation. Catherine agrees to defend Britta, and they schedule meetings to go over the case. With Emma at her side, Britta insists on telling Catherine her story as she sees fit, with all of the Danish history and background she thinks is necessary. However, Britta and Ole are nonagenarians, and the trial will begin soon. Will she provide Catherine with the information they need to be successful? Will Liam, who flew to Denmark to research Britta's claims, be able to get proof of who Ole really is and what he did? The trial is only weeks away, and Britta's long-winded story and poor health make the situation more difficult for Catherine as she tries to prepare for a trial that surely will be a media circus. In the meantime, we learn about Britta’s experiences in Denmark. The Jewish Danes were Danish first, so religion wasn't of utmost importance to most of them and rarely was a source of division. So they felt just as Danish as the Lutherans, and all or most of them defended every Dane's right to live freely and without restrictions. Hitler allowed them that freedom because Germany needed Denmark's geographic location to get to Sweden and its rich materials that were so vital to the war effort. But eventually Germany grew tired of this arrangement and ordered that the Jews be rounded up and transported. Over 7,500 of them were saved by ordinary Danes who hid them, took them to hospitals under fake names, and sailed them to Sweden. There were exceptions, but only around 300 Danish Jews were deported thanks to the unified efforts of the Danish people. Balson makes this extraordinary event real and immediate through Britta's emotional narrative. The courtroom drama is equally riveting. How will Britta overcome Ole’s defamation lawsuit? We learn about the machinations that are possible, and we see how Catherine (and ultimately Britta herself) adroitly manipulates both the legal process and the pompous opposing counsel who will stop at nothing to promote himself at the expense of truth and honor. DEFENDING BRITTA STEIN will keep readers as enthralled in Britta's story as Catherine appears to be. It's truly inspirational to read of a country where the people are so united by their patriotism that all citizens, regardless of religious beliefs, are considered brothers and sisters worthy of saving at any cost. Reviewed by Pamela Kramer

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sonica

    Thank you St. Martin's Press for my copy of Defending Britta Stein by Ronald H. Balson in exchange for my honest review.  This title published September 7, 2021. Spoiler alert: I loved this story and devoured it in two sittings. This was my first book by Ronald H. Balson and definitely won't be my last.  His writing is incredible and this was a compelling story with a cast of memorable characters and it taught me a piece of Danish history in the process. The story follows Catherine Lockhart, a high Thank you St. Martin's Press for my copy of Defending Britta Stein by Ronald H. Balson in exchange for my honest review.  This title published September 7, 2021. Spoiler alert: I loved this story and devoured it in two sittings. This was my first book by Ronald H. Balson and definitely won't be my last.  His writing is incredible and this was a compelling story with a cast of memorable characters and it taught me a piece of Danish history in the process. The story follows Catherine Lockhart, a high profile attorney in Chicago who has been asked by a colleague to accept and defend a difficult case involving a 92-year old woman who has been accused of defamation after she spray painted some pretty ugly words on the side of a restaurant belonging to a well-respected and regarded business owner.  Told in dual timelines, alternating between present day Chicago (2018) and the recollection of Britta Stein about her homeland of Denmark prior to the presence of the Nazis and during World War II.  Without much time to prepare, Catherine must test her patience and expertise in trying a case that on the forefront seems like a losing battle. The characters of both Catherine Lockhart and Britta Stein were two of the best I have read in this genre in a long time.  Both were inspiring and I really enjoyed the development and evolution of each of these women throughout this story. At first glance, Britta is extremely difficult and very grounded in her own ways.  I wasn't a big fan of hers in the beginning because she made things incredibly difficult for Catherine and any progress in her case.  She wanted to tell her story, her way - and there was no room for negotiation around that.  By the end of the book, I completely appreciated her motive and she ended up on my "like list".  She was a brave, string willed and minded woman who has seen and been through it all and at 92, she is determined to fight the good fight to prove she was not being defamatory and that there was great truth behind the words she spray painted that evening on that wall. Catherine was my favourite right from the start of this story.  She is the epitome of powerhouse and encompasses the greatest of traits when it comes to a strong female lead protagonist.  She knew this case was going to be an uphill battle and she never once gave up, even when Britta was at her most defiant.  She held it together and kept her patience at bay and in the end it truly paid off. The dynamic between these two women was captivating and I really enjoyed reading their relationship and watching it grow as the story unfolded.  There were some powerful scenes in this story and I thought the author did an exceptional job at recreating a piece of history for the reader in an engaging way.  The courtroom scenes were my favourite (of course) and I loved how Catherine handled herself against her fierce opponent. I highly recommend picking this one up if you are a fan of historical fiction that is set around World War II.  A great fall read with a bit of history you might not know about and will surely appreciate once you read it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    Book Review: Defending Britta Stein, by Ronald H. Balson, St. Mary’s Press, New York Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to read this interesting and informative book in exchange for an honest review. The story begins in the courtroom where attorney Catherine Lockhart has just presented a case to Judge Obadiah. She wins it. As soon as the case is done, another attorney, Walter Jenkins, asks for a moment of Catherine’s time to discuss another matter. That matter is the case of Britta Stein who Book Review: Defending Britta Stein, by Ronald H. Balson, St. Mary’s Press, New York Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to read this interesting and informative book in exchange for an honest review. The story begins in the courtroom where attorney Catherine Lockhart has just presented a case to Judge Obadiah. She wins it. As soon as the case is done, another attorney, Walter Jenkins, asks for a moment of Catherine’s time to discuss another matter. That matter is the case of Britta Stein who has been arrested and is being sued for defamatory remarks made about a local businessman, a 95 year-old Ole Henryks – accusing him of being a Nazi-sympathizer, and a perpetrator of war crimes against Jews in Denmark. The defendant, Britta Stein, is also in her mid-90’s. She doesn’t deny what she’s done. In fact – she claims it’s all true. Walter is asking Catherine to defend her. Intrigued, ultimately she says yes. The story unfolds as Catherine and her associate, Emma Fisher – who is the niece of Britta Stein – begin listening to Britta and letting her tell the tale of why Ole Henryks is in fact exactly what Britta says he is. To help unravel all the pieces, Catherine asks her husband, Liam Taggart, to help her research the data to prove Britta’s innocence. It’s a fascinating tale the takes you back into the early days of the Nazi’s ultimate occupation of Denmark and how the Blue Shirt informers who supported the Germans, tried to thwart the efforts of the resistance to protect the Jewish population. While it is an historical fiction novel – with the narrative shifting between present day with Catherine, Emma and Liam, Britta and Ole – and WWII days as told by Britta about her experiences in Denmark as a child. The truth of what occurred in Denmark in World War II (see acknowledgements) are factual and the story is built upon that truth. All characters are fictionalized and well conceived and fleshed out. It’s a robust and compelling story.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sydney Long

    Wow! Another amazing installment of the Catherine Lockhart and Liam Taggert series from Ronald Balson. When 92 year old Britta Stein is arrested for and charged with defamation, Catherine Lockhart sets out to prove that the words Britta used to condemn 95 year old Ole Hendryks are true. They are pretty damning words, traitor, liar, Nazi collaborator but Britta does not back down from her words. Hendryks adamantly denies that he had any involvement in Nazi war crimes…specifically informing on and Wow! Another amazing installment of the Catherine Lockhart and Liam Taggert series from Ronald Balson. When 92 year old Britta Stein is arrested for and charged with defamation, Catherine Lockhart sets out to prove that the words Britta used to condemn 95 year old Ole Hendryks are true. They are pretty damning words, traitor, liar, Nazi collaborator but Britta does not back down from her words. Hendryks adamantly denies that he had any involvement in Nazi war crimes…specifically informing on and leading the Gestapo to Danish Jews. But…Britta has a story to tell…one that she wants to share with her granddaughter and one that vindicates her family who suffered from the betrayal. When the case finds it’s way to trial, it’s Catherine’s job to prove that the defaming words are true…a challenge, indeed, because aside from testimony….very little remains from a war that occurred 75 years ago. But I’m true Catherine Lockhart form…she takes on the challenge. While this story is a work of fiction…all of the events that are mentioned in this story are true to the history of Denmark’s WWII story. Some of the secondary characters were very real people but the main ones are of the authors incredible imagination. Fans of this series, will be hooked on this story from the very first page. It provided me with a history lesson that I was not at all familiar with and for that I am truly grateful. Denmark held strong during the war. They fought back and protected their people with overwhelming pride and unity. History teachers need to immerse themselves in stories like this because it truly has an impact! It definitely did on me! Thank you so much to NetGalley, St Martins Press and most importantly Ronald Balson for allowing me to read this remarkable ahead of its release. I LOVED every page!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jady Babin

    I listened to this book instead of reading which is not my norm. Maybe I shouldn’t be allowed to do that anymore? 😆 I have a few things to share . . . and they ain’t pretty! Breaking down my thoughts on this book: Concept - 4 Flashback story - 3 Present day storyline - 2 Wishy-washy/annoying characters - 1 Repetitive and inconsistent dialogue (yes - they were happening simultaneously) - 1 Does she remember or not? Is she strong or not? Is she going too slow or not? MAKE UP YOUR MINDS!! Audio version I listened to this book instead of reading which is not my norm. Maybe I shouldn’t be allowed to do that anymore? 😆 I have a few things to share . . . and they ain’t pretty! Breaking down my thoughts on this book: Concept - 4 Flashback story - 3 Present day storyline - 2 Wishy-washy/annoying characters - 1 Repetitive and inconsistent dialogue (yes - they were happening simultaneously) - 1 Does she remember or not? Is she strong or not? Is she going too slow or not? MAKE UP YOUR MINDS!! Audio version - HIGHLY ANNOYING! It felt as if the author did tons of research and wanted to show off how much he knew by having characters simply spit out the facts! The way in which the lawyer interacted with her client and prepared for the case was very unrealistic. And if I heard the words “narrative” or “Bubby” one more time .... 😡 😜 The end? How the hell did they get from point A to the point Z with NO proof of B through Y??? Was this the rough draft of the story published by mistake? I’ll stop there!! Phew!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Christy Howe

    My first WWII read, very informative and descriptive! Fiction yet non-fiction for the truth it revealed of Denmark and its faithful, devoted and steadfast people who died and survived the war. The transition in regards to the agreement Denmark had with Germany was fluctuating and scary at times , the groups were forever determined and the story of Britta Stein detailed in every way. This book was about the start and duration of WWII, specifically with Denmark. Britta Stein lived it and survived My first WWII read, very informative and descriptive! Fiction yet non-fiction for the truth it revealed of Denmark and its faithful, devoted and steadfast people who died and survived the war. The transition in regards to the agreement Denmark had with Germany was fluctuating and scary at times , the groups were forever determined and the story of Britta Stein detailed in every way. This book was about the start and duration of WWII, specifically with Denmark. Britta Stein lived it and survived it . It’s the story of her family and how they were all affected. Ole Hendryks was about to receive an award as a “war hero” despite his nazi interactions and informant contributions. Britta (a 92 year old woman)spray painted defamatory remarks on the outside of his bar (his business) so everyone would know the truth , that he was not in fact a war hero at all! He filed a law suit against Britta for embarrassing him in the public eye! Catherine defended Britta to attempt to provide justice and reveal the truth about Ole. Good read for someone who likes to learn about history, specifically WWII and a jury trial and all that leads up to it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ali

    There are lots of things about this book I did not like... essentially you have a 90+ year old narrator sharing her life story but it comes across like an indifferent regurgitation of historical facts. I felt as if I was being force fed a personal story thinly disguised as textbook writing. Also, I couldn't get over the implausibility of a very old, sick woman giving such a detailed account of events that happened 80 years ago; nor could I believe that an opposing lawyer could be hoodwinked and There are lots of things about this book I did not like... essentially you have a 90+ year old narrator sharing her life story but it comes across like an indifferent regurgitation of historical facts. I felt as if I was being force fed a personal story thinly disguised as textbook writing. Also, I couldn't get over the implausibility of a very old, sick woman giving such a detailed account of events that happened 80 years ago; nor could I believe that an opposing lawyer could be hoodwinked and manipulated so easily. The saving grace of this book is the light it shines on the bravery and solidarity of the Danish people as they stood for their freedoms, their independence and their countrymen, Jew or non-Jew, it didn't matter to them. I didn't know much about Denmark's determination to maintain their liberty and identity during their Nazi occupation and that part was truly inspiring. As the cycle of history spins round and round, their story is also very relevant to us today.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bree Ogle

    Defending Britta Stein by Ronald H. Balson Length: 352 Pages Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars A special thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an ARC of this book! I unfortunately didn't realize that this was the sixth book in a series by Balson, featuring attorney Catherine Lockhart and her husband, Detective Liam Taggert, however I was able to understand it easily and I think it's a perfect example of a series that you don't have to read in order to enjoy! Right a Defending Britta Stein by Ronald H. Balson Length: 352 Pages Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars A special thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an ARC of this book! I unfortunately didn't realize that this was the sixth book in a series by Balson, featuring attorney Catherine Lockhart and her husband, Detective Liam Taggert, however I was able to understand it easily and I think it's a perfect example of a series that you don't have to read in order to enjoy! Right away I was struck (not in a good way) by the writing style, which relied mostly on dialogue, with the little bit of description and action being entirely told to us, making the characters rather one dimensional and hard to connect with. The best part was all of Britta's memories of Denmark during WWII. A solid three star read for me.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    I received an e-arc through Netgalley. I read a lot of WWII historical fiction, but I hadn't read anything about how Denmark handled the Nazis during WWII or that they were neutral during WWI. I was really moved by the way the country worked together to try to protect the Jewish people within their country. Defending Britta Stein was a quick lesson in law and emotional response which oftentimes seem at odds with each other. It is a worthwhile book and taught me more about another angle of WWII. W I received an e-arc through Netgalley. I read a lot of WWII historical fiction, but I hadn't read anything about how Denmark handled the Nazis during WWII or that they were neutral during WWI. I was really moved by the way the country worked together to try to protect the Jewish people within their country. Defending Britta Stein was a quick lesson in law and emotional response which oftentimes seem at odds with each other. It is a worthwhile book and taught me more about another angle of WWII. We can't forget what happened during that period of history.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    A procedural court drama involving two people in their 90s, one who accuses the other of being a Nazi collaborator when he was 17 in Denmark. The female spray paints his restaurant with accusations and is arrested for it. She takes him to court to face her accusations. Predictable and not that enlightening. Just ok.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Betsy

    I am a big fan of Ronald Balson. Defending Britta Stein was a lot like Once We Were Brothers but not quite as compelling when I began to read. However, as I got more immersed in the story I began to see the story very much on its own and liked the two main characters very much. Britta and her Granddaughter are the focus of the book with Catherine and especially Liam having a secondary role. Overall I would say it was an enjoyable read and I can recommend it

  29. 4 out of 5

    Katie Mccool

    I love all the books in this series. Probably best to start with “Once We Were Brothers” All the books dig into WWII mysteries.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Fran Kraft

    Wow. Incredible story of the Danish people in WW2 their heroics and resistance to the Nazis and their determination to protect the Danish Jewish population. Could not put it down. A good historical read.

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