(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author Harald Gilbers published the novel “Germania: A Novel of Nazi Berlin” in 2020. This is his first English publication and the first of his Richard Oppenheimer series.
I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of violence. The story is set in 1944 Berlin. The primary characters are Jewish former Police Inspector Richard Oppenheimer and SS Hauptsturmfüher (Captain) Vogler.
Oppenheimer had been living a secluded life since his dismissal from the police. He had been able to avoid the plight of most Jews because his wife is a gentile. The Sicherheitsdienst (German SS intelligence) wake him and his wife Lisa one morning.
They take Oppenheimer to the site of a brutal murder. A young woman has been killed. SS Hauptsturmfüher Vogler is leading the investigation. Vogler recruits Oppenheimer to assist as a consultant. Oppenheimer has little choice but to cooperate.
The investigation proceeds over a period of weeks from May 7 until June 25. The murder is the work of a serial killer. The killing won’t stop until they find the perpetrator. Vogler receives criticism for involving a Jew. Oppenheimer fears more than once for his very life.
There is more than just a murder investigation going on. The Nazi leadership wants a quick solution. They also want to make sure that there are no ties back to the party.
I enjoyed the 16+ hours I spent reading this 348-page WWII era mystery. The situation of a Jew working with the SS in wartime Berlin provides a very different setting. The mystery itself is a little slow and dull, but the image of wartime Berlin is interesting. There are a few abrupt transitions between characters. This makes it a little difficult to read. The selected cover art is not great, but it does fit the image of a Police Inspector. I give this novel a 3.9 (rounded up to a 4) out of 5.
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If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest.
- The “World War II Resources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 510 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
- The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
- The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.