The Sleepwalkers-Paul Grossman

The Sleepwalkers

Paul Grossman

St. Martin’s, Oct 12 2010, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312601904

In 1932 Berlin police detective Willi Krauss solves the notorious Child Eater serial killer case, which brings him a modicum of fame though the power hungry Nazis are unhappy about this as he is a Jew.  On his next assignment Krauss investigates the strange death of a woman floating in the River Spree.  The victim’s head was shaved and her fibula surgically removed from one leg only to be replanted in the other limb.

 Because of his recent fame, Weimar Republic President General Paul von Hindenberg assigns Krauss to look into the disappearance of a young Bulgarian princess who went out to purchase cigarettes, but never came home.  At the same time as his workload grows, he has no time to sit Shiva for his recently deceased wife nor spend time with their children who are staying with their aunt.  Between von Hindenberg and the Nazis, Krauss struggles to solve his difficult cases.

This engaging German historical police procedural contains a strong sense of how much enthusiasm the Nazis felt and the fear they placed in their rival, adversaries, and chosen scapegoats.  Krauss is a strong lead character whose religion places a scarlet letter on him as far as the Nazis are concerned as they would rather have the Child Eater still terrorizing people than have a Jew solve the case.  Although some of the key support characters are stereotypical and unnecessary (including an apparent love interest) as they detract from the entertaining plot by causing questionable character contradictions, fans will enjoy visiting Berlin at a pivotal wind of change sweeps Germany.

Harriet Klausner

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