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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, atmospheric and portentous
In my highly subjective opinion, Jonathan Rabb is the best writer of intelligent and highly authentic thrillers in print today. He creates stories of immense intricacy that always reach a satisfactory conclusion, and his sense of atmosphere, character and event is astonishing.

Shadow and Light is the second Rabb novel to feature Chief Inspector Nikolai...
Published on 13 May 2009 by C. H. Middleburgh

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately More Wearying than Entertaining
As a big fan of Phillip Kerr's "Berlin Noir" series, I'm always interested to read more crime fiction set in Weimar-era and wartime Germany. This 1927-set crime novel also features the German film industry, which is another interest of mine, so it seemed totally up my alley. Things kick off when Berlin police chief inspector Nikoli Hoffner is sent out to the UFAstudio's...
Published on 18 Mar 2009 by A. Ross


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately More Wearying than Entertaining, 18 Mar 2009
By 
A. Ross (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Shadow and Light (Hardcover)
As a big fan of Phillip Kerr's "Berlin Noir" series, I'm always interested to read more crime fiction set in Weimar-era and wartime Germany. This 1927-set crime novel also features the German film industry, which is another interest of mine, so it seemed totally up my alley. Things kick off when Berlin police chief inspector Nikoli Hoffner is sent out to the UFAstudio's campus to investigate a suicide. From the very start, I couldn't shake the feeling that there was some larger backstory to Hoffner that I had missed out on. And that, indeed, is the case: Hoffner was the protagonist of Rabb's earlier book, Rosa. That helps to explain a great deal of my dissatisfaction with Hoffner's character and some of the plot points, and so I would strongly recommend reading Rosa before picking this up.

This book is filled to the rim with intricate plotting based partly on the real-life "Phoebus Affair", as the murder leads Hoffner into a very confusing stew of industrial espionage, sexual debauchery and blackmail, the early days of National Socialism, and Berlin's dirty underbelly of gangsters, junkies, and thugs (not to mention cameos by Fritz Lang, Peter Lorre, Joseph Goebbels, and Alfred Hugenberg). Various corpses continue to appear along the way, as Hoffner stolidly picks away at the various strands that ultimately lead back to the Treaty of Versailles. Mixed up in all this is a sharp-tongued American dame of mysterious motives, whom Hoffner finds himself drawn to. There's also a running subplot involving Hoffner's strained attempts to connect with his two sons, one a teenager working at UFA, the other, a protege of Goebbels.

While I was immersed in the dark moody world Rabb is able to bring to life, the story never quite coalesced into anything I could really grab a hold of. Alan Furst's novels of espionage capture the same tone, but are able to bring more solid storytelling to the fore. Here, the plotlines wander around bumping into each other, but by the end it's not clear what the point of it all is. (Nor is it at all clear in some cases how Hoffner makes various deductive leaps.) And as mentioned earlier, some key relationships (such as that between Hoffner and the gangster Alby Pimm, or Hoffner and his sons) are rather cryptic unless one has already read Rosa. It doesn't help that everyone speaks to each other in very clever banter that is entertaining to read, but feels more of the movies than real life. By the end, the book's channeling of Furst, Kerr, Isherwood's Berlin Novels, and The Maltese Falcon left me a more wearied than entertained.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, atmospheric and portentous, 13 May 2009
By 
C. H. Middleburgh (Buckinghamshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Shadow and Light (Paperback)
In my highly subjective opinion, Jonathan Rabb is the best writer of intelligent and highly authentic thrillers in print today. He creates stories of immense intricacy that always reach a satisfactory conclusion, and his sense of atmosphere, character and event is astonishing.

Shadow and Light is the second Rabb novel to feature Chief Inspector Nikolai Hoffner, the widowed Kripo detective estranged from his sons, who possesses an uncanny eye for detail and an amazing breadth of perspective, and yet who finds it hard to combat his own inner demons and self-destructiveness.

The story is set in Berlin in the late twenties; the city is at its decadent height but all around the signs of danger from incipient fascism are evident, signs that bode ill for the city, for Germany as a whole, and, because of his Jewish mother, for Hoffner in particular. That the reader has this knowledge adds a power and poignancy to the story overall.

In Shadow and Light a murder at a film studio leads Hoffner on a trail that takes in the film director Fritz Lang, the newspaper magnate Alfred Hugenberg and the shadowy Joseph Goebbels. He is hindered from time to time by family worries - his younger son has bunked off school to work at the film studios and his older son is mixed up with the Brownshirts.

Hoffner pursues the case with help from the gloriously sinister Alby Pimm, and although he solves his case he ends up no better than he was before it began.

Jonathan Rabb continues to delight with this second novel from Germany between the two World Wars, and it is to be hoped that there is at least one more Hoffner tale before he is engulfed by the tide of history.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Numer 2 in the trilogy., 2 May 2014
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This review is from: Shadow and Light (Paperback)
The continuing story of the inter war period political crime story set in Berlin, it continues to feature the main character Nikolai Hofner working under the Nazi SS, enfevouring to solve a series of murders. The continuity works well if one started with the Rosa story.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not a particularly easy read but worth persevering, 28 April 2014
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Good evolving plot but difficult to associate and warm to the characters. Plays with the historical chert to follow but fails to provide real insights and hooks.

Despite this enjoyable!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Shadow and Light, 17 April 2014
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Complex thriller which had you guessing the outcome until the very end. A clear insight to Germany between the wars. In
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and long-winded, 15 April 2014
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It was a struggle to finish this book. It deals withe especially unsavoury characters and the plot is rather tortuous. I was fascinated by the idea of reading a book about this particular period but found it quite revolting.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read, 2 April 2014
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Conveys the darkness creeping over Germany with the rise of the Nazi party very amospheric, a wonderful follow on from Rosa
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5.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric thriller, 6 Dec 2013
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P. J. Laing (Norfolk, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Shadow and Light (Paperback)
Loved this book for the period it is set in, the characters and the plot. Couldn't put it down. Brilliant!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Ignore Politics at your peril!, 23 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Shadow and Light (Paperback)
Convoluted plot line, but atmospherically set in the Berlin of the inter-war, early years of the rise of the National Socialists. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Triology, 13 Dec 2012
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I'm review the three books in the Triology . Unfortunately I read Rosa last however that was my mistake and it took little from the overall read.
It's a matter of taste but his style of writing I find easy to read. I read these for leisure but the historical facts appear to be accurate. Collectively I'd give them 5, of the three Rosa was the best read.
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Shadow and Light
Shadow and Light by Jonathan Rabb (Paperback - 16 April 2009)
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