Volker Kutscher ‘Babylon Berlin’

As I mentioned in an earlier Post About Philip Kerr who treats the theme of Germany before during and after the Second World War, he tends to repeat themes and his main character Gunther is mixed up with high placed name dropping nazis which detracts for me from his well written and well paced novels.
So when I came across a German writer treating, in this book, the Weimar Republic, through a detective novel this interested me both as a period and a comparison.


The book is part of a series involving the inspector Gereon Rath, the title in English is The Wet Fish, which we learn is a name given to closed unsolved cases. Incidentally the rights for this series have not yet been sold in English.

The novel is a slowly paced, well documented intrigue set at a time when the events in immediate post WW1 Russia are fresh, when the fear of revolution outside of Russia is real and where there are many White Russian refugees.

Gereon Rath arrives under a cloud in Berlin from Cologne where as a homicide police officer he was involved in the death of the son of a newspaper magnate, he initially is part of the vice squad, but as the unsolved murders build up he is seconded into the homicide squad.

Gereon finds himself sucked into the enquiry concerning arms, Russian gold, organised crime and paramilitary organisations (In 1929, the national socialists do not seem too serious).

Berlin and it’s different areas are a central part of this well documented story as Rath stumbles from clue to clue losing a part of his own integrity on the way. The book is slow paced and relatively long.

Rath meets no key Nazi or historical figures and will no doubt develop in the later books in the series

I enjoyed this book and recommend it in one of the available languages and as a series to be edited in English.

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