Berlin: A Novel Paperback – 13 Jul 2006
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Startling and convincing... One of the best novels I've ever read set in this era --John Lawton, author of Black Out.
An ambitious novel, filled with brilliantly drawn characters, mesmerisingly readable and disturbingly convincing. --Sunday Telegraph
In the end it is Berlin itself, the city and its inhabitants, meticulously observed and depicted, that emerges as the true star of the story, flawed, cruel, seductively engaging and all too human. This is its best evocation since Len Deighton's Winter. --The Times
From the Inside Flap
Berlin, a city devastated by the Second World War, harbours a new and terrifying threat. The fighting may be over, but the killing goes on.
Pierre Freis Berlin is an atmospheric and ambitious novel, which vividly evokes the social degeneration of the Nazi period. On one level a traditional crime thriller, it proves in the end to be a novel of considerable depth and substance. Through the unusual technique of telling us the life story of each of a serial killers victims, Frei builds up a devastating picture of the corruption of Nazi rule and the impact it had on so many German families. It is a hugely absorbing, entertaining and, at times, moving read and should appeal to fans of Harris, Deighton and Le Carre, amongst others.
Tom Bradby, author of Shadow Dancer, The Sleep of the Dead, The Master of Rain and The White Russian --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Unfortunately, the structure robs the narrative of any potential suspense and makes for rather choppy reading. Contemporary chapters concerning the hunt for the serial killer alternate with each victim's lengthy backstory in a way that makes it very hard to keep track of all the various German and American characters. And since each of the victims is introduced at her death, the flashback life story that immediately follows is overlain with an oppressive sense of impending tragedy. Especially as in each case, the woman is killed on the very night her life seems to have finally turned the corner for the better.
These women include a village farmgirl turned actress, a middle-class nurse, a slum-dweller turned upscale prostitute, a horse-riding aristocrat, and a bookshop assistant, each carefully constructed to show a different aspect of German society.Read more ›
The good things: above all the stories of the women (I am not going to spoil any plots so don't worry). One genuinely gets a sense of the tragedy of murder with the victims seen as living, complex, contradictory people. Also the sense of Berlin immediately post war. And since all the stories span the period from 1933-ish to mid 1945, once gets a real sense of the journeys that people had to make through those dreadful years.
Less good, the coincidences and the reappearance of characters, perhaps an artifice to reduce the number of characters (the 'novel' resembling a collection of short stories in many ways) but if so it didn't work for me. Especially on a Kindle, which made it hard to cross reference (at least it did for me), I kept on thinking, 'I remember that person - or did I?'. And the minor characters - even secondary characters such as the police and the lovers - were too many and too often caricatures to be credible for me. (However the central women were strongly drawn).
And the plot - well I got the murderer about half way through. And how he came to be doing what he did.
Above all, I found the sex scenes really distasteful. Not that I am a particular prude or that I don't appreciate a good one but I found these nasty, too many, repetitive, offensive, gratuitous, ridiculous. Yuck.
So a very mixed bag. On balance I don't recommend it. But I did learn from reading it. However I am now pleased to have finished and to be able to move onto to something more substantial.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
At lest 200 pages too long. This is a simple murder/mystery which instead of the author resolving we are instead treated to endless pages about each of the murdered girls. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Holly
I wasn't sure whether to rate it poor or low average - poor it is. Overly long, meandering, excessively verbose without creating the tension or character association that you... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Fras
A truly gripping story of some German women and their variable wartime experiences and ultimate murders .
A real whodunit with evocative descriptions of post war Berlin.
At first I was not sure about this but bought it as a Kindle Daily Deal. I am really glad I did. It is not just a murder mystery but it goes into the lives of the victims before,... Read morePublished 24 months ago by Kindle Ed.
Marvellous book that kept me on the edge of my seat and guessing right to the end. Thoroughly recommended.Published 24 months ago by Annecee
There are so many stories in this book which makes it so interesting. After each murder the author tells you the life story of the victim. Read morePublished on 4 July 2014 by A.G.Raynor-Krill