I had dreams for a better life, but when you live in abject poverty and know nothing else, it is difficult to realize the possibilities that exist.

The generations of German families here once had hope, but it had long since died and people simply focused on survival. Laughter made surviving more bearable. This was especially true for my grandparents who had spent their entire lives in this sad and lonely village. My sisters and I didn’t fully understand how terrible things were, for we were still young. My parents were somewhere in between, in the process of moving from hopeful to bitter. If we weren’t careful, my sisters and I would fall into the same trap. Despite the fact that I tried to be hopeful, I was also a realist and I never lost sight of who I really was, a poor German peasant growing up in a dreary village called Grimm located in a cruel area known as the Russian Steppes.

Braha Book Cover from Amazon Linden St. Clair is working overseas when she learns her beloved grandfather has passed away under suspicious circumstances. Returning home, she discovers he has left her an old family journal, as well as clues to an explosive family secret. The journal, written by Leena Weiss, Linden’s great-great grandmother, recalls the woman’s early years as a German girl living in a small Russian village. Leena’s life is turned upside down when a Russian army officer turns her into his object of affection. Caught in a difficult situation, Leena soon finds herself living a life on the run, pursued by the Okhrana, a secret police organization and predecessor to the KGB. A century later, Linden peels back shadowy layers, exposing clues and secrets. Despite her professional security team, she and her family remain pawns in a deadly game that extends beyond borders and crisscrosses the globe. Available now on Amazon and other online bookstores.

What People Are Saying

In the eighteenth century, Catherine the Great enticed German farmers to settle in Russia. The German communities remained distinct from the Russians linguistically and culturally. Mangano is descended from such German settlers in Russia, as is her modern-day protagonist, Linden St. Clair. The contemporary side of the novel revolves around Linden trying to uncover the truth behind the death of her beloved grandfather, Franklin, a wealthy rancher in rural Somerville, California. The second story comes from the memoirs of Linden’s great-greatgrandmother, Leena Lagerlöf, née Weiss, an ethnic German born in Russia, who fled in the last days of the czars. Both tales speak of lost loves and of truths dangerous and hidden. As each narrative unfolds, Leena and Franklin’s connection becomes clearer, merging in the end to a single, multigenerational tale of international intrigue.  4 stars  —  Jason Henninger, Foreword Reviews

A finely-crafted tale of two unforgettable women, born centuries apart, whose lives of secret parallel danger coincide in a suspenseful saga. Julie Mangano has deftly woven in a little-known history of the German and Russian peoples with a story that reaches down through the ages following decades of intrigue, spying, and murder to culminate in a shocking yet satisfying finale. A great read.  — Jill Amadio, Author, Digging Too Deep: A Tosca Trevant Mystery

It all starts with a death. Or was it a murder? If you like mysteries and intrigue, this is a book you can’t put down. It’s part historical novel, part modern day puzzle. I loved that it was written in the style of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, with chapters flipping back and forth between the two compelling time frames.  —  Suzy Soro, Author, Celebrity sTalker

Julie Mangano has written a compelling novel. The unusual twists and turns kept me reading it with happy interest. A perfect book for vacations.  —  Debra Silverman, M.A., Author, The Missing Element, Compassion for the Human Condition

This is a fascinating book about the historical roots of Germans in Russia. It is also a tale of international intrigue and one family. Meticulously researched and beautifully written. I had trouble putting it down.   —  Charles G. Campbell

The stunning debut of Julie Mangano’s “Braha” has me thinking I have found my new favorite author. The deftly plotted story was brilliant and solid, with interesting and well-defined characters. The writing flowed smoothly and Julie has certainly done her research.   —  R. Berg