In the last days of the First World War, socialist revolution swept across Germany, sending Kaiser Wilhelm into exile and transforming Berlin into a battleground. But for Detective Inspector Nikolai Hoffner and his young assistant, Hans Fichte, the revolution is a mere inconvenience.Four women from the slums of Berlin have turned up dead, all with identical markings etched into their backs, and Hoffner and Fichte have spent the better part of six weeks trying to crack the bizarre case.Things take a troubling turn when the political police begin to show an interest in Hoffner's investigation. Hoffner has no idea why the Polpo would want to get their hands dirty with a serial murderer, until he is shown the lifeless body of Rosa Luxemburg, the same eerie markings on her back. Rumors abound that Rosa, one of the leaders of the suppressed socialist uprising, was assassinated by an angry mob, but the pattern carved into her back tells a different story.In his remarkable thriller, Jonathan Rabb paints a vivid, unforgettable picture of a city and a people poised between the chaos of the First World War and the darkness to come, a time when political thugs, petty thieves, and charismatic leaders rushed to fill the void left behind. Into this gap steps Hoffner, who, while battling his own personal demons, is still determined to find out who is preying on the women of Berlin, even as he gets drawn deeper into the mystery surrounding Rosa's death. Hoffner's search for the killer leads him on a dark and twisted journey through the battle-scarred streets of the city, where he soon discovers that nothing is as it appears. And while he finds allies in unexpected places, he is met at every turn by men who will stop at nothing to keep him from finding out the truth about Rosa.More
Jonathan Rabb provides a fictional explanation of the murder of revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg, who was imprisoned during WWI, released immediately after the war, and then killed. Rabb's superbly researched novel is gripping and offers a cogent, albeit hypothetical, explanation for Luxemburg's unsolved death. Simon Prebble is a superb choice of narrator, and he elevates the fascinating story to an even higher plane. The work requires a measured yet intense narrative style, which Prebble flawlessly provides, allowing Rabb's writing to shine. Prebble's portrayals of Detective Hoffner and Hans Fichte, a detective trainee, are superb as he captures their mixed emotions regarding the changes that take place in Berlin during the war and the political implications of Luxemburg's death.
"Subtexts of love, betrayal and a detective at war with his feelings illuminate this gothic tapestry of anti-Semitism and ethnic elitism with its foreshadowing of the Nazi era." (Publishers Weekly)
"A wonderfully evocative novel about Berlin immediately after World War I." (Booklist)
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Narrator better than the Authos
- Judith A. Weller
Imaginative Historical Thriller