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Straight into Darkness by Faye Kellerman
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Straight into Darkness (2005)

by Faye Kellerman

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  sally906 | Apr 3, 2013 |
Substance: A searing look into Germany in the time of Hitler's ascension, and the world-views that made his rise possible. The story of the Police Homicide Inspector caught up in politics and murder is intriguing, and the protagonist a sympathetic and ultimately heroic, if flawed, character.
The evocative view of Weimar Germany through a Bavarian lens is used to discuss the political and social climate that Hitler manipulated, and show the people who saw the danger concomitant to his popularity, athough sometimes Kellerman stretches to bring into the story elements of the milieu that seem to be there just to complete the record.
Style: Outstanding as a novel; as a mystery, not so much. No relevant clues to the perpetrator are planted (one minor conversation 250+ pages beforehand is not sufficient for fair play with the reader), nor any to the major plot-turns of the final chapters and the motivations of the actors that make them. Frequently mentioned "clues" (missing shoes) are left hanging as loose ends, and the Freudian speculations on motive are not carried through to the end.
Although Kellerman uses German words and phrases to good advantage in setting the milieu, she is inconsistent (why "Kommunismus" but not "Juden"?)
And the "frame" is not really necessary to the story.
RATING: PG-13 for language, violence, sexual situations.
Special note: Acknowledges assistance from Franz Geiger of the White Rose resistance group, most of whom were executed by Hitler.
NOTES:
p. 139: Why does Commisioner Volker encourage Inspector Berg to arrest the Jew Gross for his wife's murder, even though both men realize he is probably innocent, but resist the same suggestion from his own superiors?
p. 187: "I believe I am done when I have nothing more to add. The work may not be exactly what I want. But adding new material will not help. So I surrender to my imperfections, curse my inability to translate to the brush what is in m head, and say, 'I quit'."..."That is the frustrating part...To see it so clearly i my brain but lack the skills to put it down on canvas."
p. 211: "I know you do not approve of Herr Hitler. You think he is a thug, and maybe he is. Still, if we don't stand up for ourselves, who will stand up for us?"..."And who is trying to keep us down, Jaochim?...As painful as it is to admit, the fault cannot lie exclusively with the Jews....(and others)...At some point we...the German people...must take responsibility for our own messes...We went to war and we lost. And that, my dear son, is not the fault of the Jews." ( )
  librisissimo | Jan 11, 2012 |
I thought this was quite good, and a departure for Mrs. Kellerman. Axel Berg is not the morally sound police detective you're used to seeing as the main character in a novel like this. Berg is flawed and imperfect and realistic, much like Munich itself in 1929. The roiling political climate makes an excellent backdrop to the story. The end is unexpected, but not unthinkable. ( )
  miyurose | Dec 12, 2008 |
Homicide detective Axel Berg is a troubled man. He sees his beloved city of Munich being hauled ever deeper into chaos by the hate mongering of an Austrian. Increasingly the city is being overrun by brown shirted thugs hurling stones and insults at anyone suspected of being a degenerate. His son is asking some hard questions, his wife wants him to quit work at the department and move, his daughter is afraid and his mistress is getting beat up. Life was difficult enough in the glum, downtrodden city without having a serial killer on the loose causing panic among the local populace as well as providing additional fuel for Hitler rallies. So when the carefully arranged bodies of well dressed young women turn up in one of the city parks, Berg is called in to make some headway on the case.

Berg begins the thankless task of trying to determine what link the women shared and stumbles upon some unexpected surprises with possible ties to the art world and beyond. As the paranoid city and its officials look for easy answers, Berg’s superiors begin pressuring him to make an arrest, any arrest. Find a likely suspect, if it’s a Jew with no political ties that’s even better and haul him in, anything to assure the general public that progress is being made thus averting panic. But things seldom go according to plan and this is no exception as an innocent man is stoned and beaten to death in the street, a fate Berg barely escapes. More murders, few clues, snarled bureaucracy and additional beatings stymie the investigation at every turn.

Against all odds Berg begins closing in on the perpetrator endangering his life as he draws nearer to the truth. Before this investigation is through he will taste the bitter dregs of a betrayal so heinous it will force him to make a deal with the devil in order to save his family.

If you are looking for a light, breezy read then go find a different title. Kellerman crafted this story as a way of connecting with her father as she worked the plot around some of the few stories he related to her when she was growing up. This dark tale set in Germany just as Hitler makes his bid for leadership is a powerful albeit, depressing read which took me several chapters to get into. The storyline is solid enough and all the usual elements of a murder mystery are there though with a bit less suspense then one might expect given the setting. There’s only one major plot twist that might catch the reader by surprise. The different spellings such as inspektor and kommissar along with a fair amount of German sprinkled in kept the reading pace slower then usual but add a layer of authenticity to the story. If you are a fan of Kellerman, you will enjoy this work; if you haven’t discovered this author yet you’d be better off trying one of her other books. ( )
  Jawin | May 28, 2008 |
Interesting concept. Hard to follow characters (names) Interesting history of pre Nazi Germany from a citizen standpoint. ( )
  gailwilliams | Mar 19, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0446611506, Mass Market Paperback)

New York Times bestselling author Kellerman traveled to Germany for the meticulous research conducted for this new novel that takes readers on an edge-of-your-seat journey to 1920s Munich: a city stalked by a ruthless killer.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:17 -0400)

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A homicide inspector in 1920s Munich hunts for a serial killer.

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