Top critical review
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on 2 June 2006
The characters don't really grab your attention or feel credible, the investigation of the murder proceeds eratically and terribly slowly, for no good reason - after eye-witness statements regarding the prime suspect's description and name/pseudonym, one detective is despatched to look through some records, while Berg, the main detective, meanders about on other matters! And he has absolutely no reaction - then or later - when he comes across the murdered body of his mistress, minutes after having killed to protect her! The whole book lacks believability.
Everyone acts like movie-Nazis (especially the bad ones who foam about jews), and everyone speaks in stilted and clunky WWII movie-German :
"May I ask why you're half-naked?"
"I am not naked - neither half nor whole"
"But neither are you in clothing";
- Berg, when asked if he wants something to eat : "Yes, that would be satisfying"...and so on.
There is no set pattern to the use of German words or terms in the book : most are italicised, as per normal practice, but then others are not, e.g. instead of communist and communism, the author uses Kommunist and Kommunism, both unitalicised - why?
For a period-set book I do like to feel the author knows the period, but you can overdo it...
Here there is an irritating overuse of irrelevant details, as if to show off the author's research : Berg's wife doesn't just hold a can of coffee - it's a 'red can of Onko coffee from bremen'; she doesn't just take a cigarette, oh no, it's ' a cigarette from a red-and-white Schimmelpennick tin'... in fact I think we get the brandname and packaging colours for three or four cigarette brands in the book. It's all unnecessary and overdone. However, the political setting is sketchy to say the least : for example, the author says that Kurt Eisner (a Kommunist, of course...) led a revolt, forcing the monarchy into exile, and was then 'elected Prime Minister of the Bavarian Republic', and had a utopian government etc. Eisner did indeed seize power and declared a republic, but how can you say he was 'elected'?
This was my first Faye Kellerman, and it will be my last.