The Roses Underneath

C.F. Yetmen showcases her architectural knowledge in "The Rose Underneath," a post-World War II thriller with an architect hero at the heart of the story.

“The Roses Underneath”
C.F. Yetmen
Ypsilon & Co. Press (2014)

Review by Helen Thompson

One of the heroes in C.F. Yetmen’s enthralling debut novel, “The Roses Underneath,” is an architect, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to Texas professionals who recognize the author’s name. When she's not writing novels, Yetmen devotes her professional life to preparing nomination packages for AIA fellowship candidates. Clear writing and good research are tools of her trade. These habits fortify the gritty story line of her thriller, which takes place in the rubble of American-occupied Wiesbaden just after the end of World War II.

With Germany divided east from west, Anna Klein is displaced and separated from her husband, a doctor, who has chosen to stay behind in the Russian-controlled east. Klein struggles to support herself and her six-year-old daughter, Amalia, by typing forms at the Collecting Point for the U.S. Army’s Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section, a corps of men and women charged with the task of recovering artworks stolen by the Nazis from the Jews.

Klein longs to rebuild a life with what’s left of her family and — amid constant reminders — to forget the horrors of war. When an engaging American captain, architect Henry Cooper, recruits her as his translator, the two of them stumble onto a cache of art in an abandoned villa. Cooper takes the search for the perpetrators into his own hands, with Klein as his accomplice. The captain’s talent for breaking the rules threatens the tenuous system of survival that the heroine has forged and thrusts Klein into a search for truth and justice in a morally ambiguous world where everyone has a lot to hide.


Helen Thompson is an Austin-based writer.