Following the recent announcements regarding the TV series billed as the most expensive German television show going, I checked out the dark and thrilling Gereon Rath novel The Silent Death.
In the bleak noir setting that is 1930s Berlin, the intrepid inspector, a Cologne native out of his depth in a new city following a disastrous case battles a dastardly and sinister serial killer bent on keeping film silent.
Added to this fight are his inner demons and his new boss, who is determined to keep Gereon on the straight and narrow and make him a team player. But with a private job on the side that suddenly links to the case, dubious connections and an increasingly troubled love life, the Inspector remains a complicated and intriguing character, and his exploits bring life to the story amid the grime and dissolution of a Germany in the grip of Nazism that is creating both political and social unrest.
Author Volker Kurscher is an expert storyteller and this evocative setting combined with his superb characterisation makes this a thrilling read from start to finish. When translated the dialogue can at times sound clunky and stilted, but the characters shine through despite this thanks to the graphic descriptions Kurscher lavishes on even the most minor passers by.
When he does get his teeth into a description, Kruscher is a true artist, creating emotive and stirring depictions of pre-war Berlin that offer a unique snapshot of this glorious city’s history. As I have already mentioned when reviewing Mark Ellis’s exquisite Historical Crime Fiction novel Merlin at War, I am no history buff, but thanks to Ellis I have come to enjoy novels set in the past, and reading The Silent Death I again have the feeling of being transported back to another era.
With Scandinavian and European Crime Fiction still a big hit and the upcoming TV series to look forward to, there has never been a better time to check out Gereon Rath and his unconventional investigative techniques.