17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 2 December 2011
A dark and dirty police procedural set in Düsseldorf during 1929. The book takes as its background the crimes of notorious serial killer Peter Kürten and the unsolved murder of a prostitute, and then spins out from there. It's full of heart and soul and a deep underlying sadness. Detective Thomas Klein is an excellent protagonist who goes against the grain to solve the murder of a prostitute - amurder that someone has already confessed to. The author makes you really care about all the characters, even the minor ones - they really come to life. A really atmospheric book that has an excellent sense of place and time. Loved it.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 29 April 2012
A historical fiction set in the aftermath of the investigation and capture by the German Police of the infamous "Dusseldorf Ripper," Peter Kürten in Germany in 1929. The author states that the novel is only loosely based upon the actual case -- though most of the characters, events and settings are historically accurate. He provides an accurate time line of the actual investigation and the steps in the police investigation that finally brought down the real Ripper in an epilogue.
Despite that disclosure, it's a whacking good story that pulls the reader immediately into its twisty plot line. The Germany of 1929 surrounds us from the jump. The desperation, the sense that there's no peace in sight even though the war is over. The characters are edgy and smell of the corruption is everywhere. From the disgraced cop hero's less than legal actions in his tormented quest to find the true murderer to the political maneuverings of his superiors and the actions of everyone else in the book, ain't nobody walking away untouched -- except The Ripper himself.
Great read with an ending that Jack Giddis, that corrupt old gumshoe of Chinatown fame, would totally understand.
Another film reference: Fritz Lang's masterful flick "M" (also about a child murderer) was inspired by the case.
Interesting fact: The real Chief Inspector on the "Ripper" case was the first to use the term "serial killer."
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 6 October 2012
The Killing of Emma Gross is a well constructed historical police procedural that is based on the story of the real Dusseldorf ripper, Peter Kurten, using real characters from the case such as Gennat and the pathologist. The story is gritty, edgy and dark, with a nice tension running throughout centred on the fraught rivalry between Klein and Ritter, and Berlin Kripo's presence. The plot is well paced and as it unfolds becomes a real page-turner. The characterisation is excellent throughout, with adequate back story to get a good sense of the main actors, and Klein was engaging as a flawed copper looking for redemption and revenge. Moreover, Seaman does a good job of placing the reader in the Weimar Republic and its unsettled social and political landscape. Overall, a taut, sinister, well told tale and I'd be interested in spending more time in Klein's company.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 28 September 2012
This is not a genre I usually read so I was not aware of the true events that form the base for the plot.
The book appears to be well researched and presents a proposed story to explain who killed Emma Gross, a girl murdered at the time of the German Ripper killings but not matching the profile of the other cases.
The story is well told, the dark oppressive atmosphere of the inter war years in Germany comes over well, and we are introduced to a number of well drawn characters.
Not my favourite genre but I can appreciate the author's craft.
on 29 July 2012
The Killing Of Emma Gross is a superb debut. You'll already know the basics if you've scrolled down this far- it's set in Germany between the wars, it's based on a series of true crimes, and it features the fictionalised investigation into the murder of the title.
There are many traps that period drama can fall into. Setting it in the past is often an excuse for a writer to hide behind their research, or for the book to be stiff and feel distant. None of those problems are in evidence here. Seaman has one of the most important writer lessons learned straight out of the gate- he knows when to put the facts to one side and tell a story. I've seen reviews that compare it to James Ellroy -and I can see why people might think of The Black Dhalia as a reference point- but I would actually point to a James Ellroy ADAPTATION; The film version of L.A. Confidential. What that film did, and what this book also does, is to bring the past to you rather than take you to the past. It feels fresh and modern, and never loses any immediacy by throwing it's period in your face.
Saying all of that, though, it does bring the period to the story in interesting ways. The social and political context of 1920's Germany is not one that gets talked about often, and it throws a unique spice into the mix here that gives the book a different flavour, something keeps it interesting at every turn.
on 21 June 2012
I will be the first to admit that I know nothing about Germany between the two World Wars beyond the word Weimar. Historical fiction is not normally my cup of tea either - too often the research gets in the way of the story. I picked up The Killing of Emma Gross because it was published by Blasted Heath, who in their short existence have yet to release a sub-standard book. I'm glad I took the chance.
Damien Seaman has taken the true case of Peter Kürten - The Vampire of Dusseldorf - and woven his own story seamlessly around the facts. You don't need to know anything about the case, or the setting to enjoy what is a top notch piece of detective fiction. Thomas Klein is an interesting, flawed detective, and the serial killer plot is far from run of the mill. Seaman manages to steer clear of the clichés of the genre - indeed it is the lightness of his touch when building characters and settings that make this book such an enjoyable read.
An immensely strong debut, I look forward to more from Mr Seaman in the future. His will be a name to watch, I'm sure.
on 15 July 2012
There isn't much joy in this book, not only is the story dark, but the austerity of post war Germany paints a bleak picture. This is a historical crime story, based partly on the serial killer, Peter Kurten, otherwise known as the Dusseldorf Ripper. Thomas Klein, the investigator, is a dark, moody character, fighting the establishment as well as investigating the murder of Emma Gross. He is not convinced that Gross was one of Kurten's victims, although his superiors would prefer that she was. This is a story where internal politics are more important than the police procedures, and corruption is everywhere. It is also a story where the reader is convinced the solution to the crime is clear right from the beginning, which makes the final twist more shocking.
This not only an excellent crime story but a piece of social history which portrays the desperation and austere conditions in Germany after the Second World War. This is an exciting and entertaining read which I would have no hesitation in recommending.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I have recently attended CrimeFest in Bristol and saw Damien Seaman on a couple of the crime panels in which he mentioned his book, currently only available in e-book format. I was very intrigued by the premise of the story which is a historical re-imagining of the infamous serial killer Peter Kurten aka `The Vampire of Dusseldorf' set in the 1920`s so hastily downloaded it. I was thoroughly gripped from start to finish and found Seaman's recreation of this period utterly real and with close adherence to original source materials (with only a little tinkering) enforcing the realism of the story and making it even more affecting. Seaman conjures up locale and atmosphere with a deft touch so the sights and sounds of this period are perfectly evoked and his description of the murder victims and scenes of crime are tangible and powerful. His main protagonist, detective Thomas Klein, is a wonderfully drawn character possessing a single-minded determination to not only capture the infamous Kurten but to properly establish the truth behind the killing of the prostitute Emma Gross which Klein realises is analogous to the other murders taking place- being similar but dissimilar in certain regards. Klein is imbued with a dark and pithy sense of humour reminiscent of the quick fire hard-boiled style of McBain and Chandler and the whole atmosphere of the book reminded me of the black and white unlit atmosphere of films such as `The Third Man. As a prolific crime reader this was certainly an impressive debut that I would thoroughly recommend to other readers who enjoy crime based on true life cases and I very much look forward to the next book...
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 27 March 2012
I must make sure not to ramble and gush, but I loved this book. Really loved it. The writing was utterly superb, and I really enjoyed reading something set outside of the USA/UK. I should hold my hands up here and say that I'm both an historical fiction and crime fiction fan, and to have both melded so beautifully was a real treat. Damien Seaman has done a great job - and a hell of a lot of research by the looks of it. What's more he's taken all of that knowledge and managed to create a flowing, vivid, evocative tale, no mean feat that, to keep the fact and fiction from warring with one another.
The plot was wonderful, pacing snappy and characters brilliant. I wanted to take Thomas Klein, give him a good meal, wash and let him sleep for a while. But that's the mammy in me. I found bits of it incredibly moving too, and think it's amazing that this is the author's first book. You can usually tell, but not this time. So yeah, this isn't some hard-assed review, and in a way even though the book was gritty and noir and brutal it also had a real human side to it which shone through. My only complaint is that I was kept up way too late reading it. And I'm sorry I've finished it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 May 2014
A detective novel set in the German Weimar Republic. I have to say that this is the first of those I've read. Which leads me on to the first observation about this book. You have to, to a large degree suspend what you may know about police procedures in more modern times in either the UK or the USA. It's really something of a different ball game. But once you settle into the time and place, there are also similarities. The way the public react to the police, the senior officers with their eye on something completely different (mostly political) from solving the case in hand and the almost Dr Lecter type confidence of a serial killer all strike a chord.
The book is dark and gritty. A bit of a novel noir really. You almost get the feeling it's set in the disarray of post war Germany, which, really it is, albeit the Great War rather than WW2. There are definite echoes of Graham Greene's "The Third Man" in the mood of this piece.
As a story, the book moves along at a reasonable pace and engages you. Based on actual people and events, you also learn a little history, possibly without meaning to.
To summarise, I enjoyed it, was educated a little and it provoked thought. Can't say fairer than that.