Ted war veteran who served with the elite Panzer division struggling with the harsh conditions of life under Allied occupation and adjusting to life as an amputee However that focus on the victims mentioned above leads to under development of the police procedural crime solving aspect of the case More problematic is the nasty lurid nature of descriptions of the serial killer s sexually motivated crimes and passages of very bad sex in parts of the book detailing the lives of victims leading up to their murders The identity of this serial killer isn t hard to guess and the ending didn t uite convince me but Frei s descriptions of the difficulties of life in postwar Berlin a divided city under military occupation held my attention throughout and kept me reading despite serious reservations about aspects of the book Some readers of a sensitive nature might be too disturbed however There is a lot of sexual violence including descriptions of rape as ou would expect if Selected Works Of Brahim Kaypakkaya you know anything about what happened to German women after Russian soldiers entered Berlin Woven rather clumsily into the book s narrative history of German experience during the 30s and through the summer of 1945 is a coming of age sub plot involving Karl Dietrich s son Ben who deals on the black market instead of going to school to buy a fancy outfit to making an impression on a girl he fancies Ben s aspirations go unnoticed by his parents who are too busy with the demands of work and the daily struggle to survive He is realistic than other supporting characters who exist as types rather than real people For further background I would recommend A Woman in Berlin an anonymously published account of a journalist s experience of the final days under heavy Allied bombing raids and vengeance taken by the Russians on German women of all ages Films such as Fritz Lang s M pre war and Der Verlorene 1951 with Peter Lorre and of course The Third Man portray the Noir atmosphere tense with fear and betrayal and for visual impactou cannot beat Roberto Rossellini s Germany Year Zero 1948 filmed in war devastated Berlin The book s strengths make up for its flaws as far as I am concerned and I would recommend it with reservations to any reader with an interest in the German perspective on the immediate post war experiences of ordinary Berliners I would like to know what happens to the Dietrich family so Frei must have done something right to make me care for his characters I uite enjoyed this but maybe as a bit of a guilty pleasure in the end The real shining positive point of this novel is the back stories for each of the murder victims They tend to go into some details covering their adolescence through to adulthood which encompasses the rise of the nationalists the war and then the direct aftermath In some regard this novel is really just a collection of short stories about women of various social standing living in pre and post war Prussia The detail in their stories is outstanding even if a little cliched or just a bit difficult to believe in placesI ve seen some negative reviews suggesting that the goings on in these back stories are too convenient and that the choice of women is also too obvious However I don t think any of the women are in positions which are totally unbelievable They are all very different which seems fair enough to myself as otherwise we might have just had four middleworking class housewives to read about I admit that some of the story aspects are far fetched and some of it falls together a bit neatly but I don t believe any of it is beyond the realms of possibilityHowever that is where the positives end reallyThe overarching storyline is that of a serial killer and the detective trying to apprehend Him This Area Of The Story Is Incredibly Weak If This area of the story is incredibly weak If the most difficult aspect to believe of the entire novel is the killer We are introduced to him early on #and given the briefest of motives for his streak but it # given the briefest of motives for his streak but it like a formality We find out in the second chapter that he kills women horribly I might add simply because one laughed at his trousers contents That s a fairly wispy premise The eventual unveiling of the killer is absolute nonsense too with the detective having already solved it but for some reason doing little about it and then just uickly explaining himself right at the endThe real issue with the killer plot line is that it only serves to link the women and their back stories together Their stories do briefly intertwine in places but the serial killer aspect is purely linkage On its own it s not interesting and doesn t stand up to any scrutinySimilarly the sub plot which involves the detective s son is entirely superfluous I suppose it adds another short story to the pile but his is a bit dull He just craves for material possessions in a deprived time which while fleshing out the idea that he was just a normal child in strange times adds absolutely nothing to the storyThe translation has also taken a bit of a beating in the reviews too The phraseology throughout is very repetitive with certain words just seeming to clash I don t agree with what some reviewers have pointed out here but it certainly does read a bit peculiarly at times I couldn t possibly read the German version so I m unsure whether the translation is a fair representation or notMy final issue is a bit left field given the subject matter The sheer volume of sex here and the sexual attitudes of primarily the women are very surprising Every woman involved including some as oung as 14 are completely sexually open and will take a man whenever they fancy They are very much the main drivers of it in any of the scenes when something unpleasant isn t happening While it would be nice to believe that they could be so empowered it s difficult to resolve with the period in which the story is set To be honest it s difficult to resolve as a concept in 2014 The final scene involving the detective s son and the tailor s daughter being a case in point The girl is meant to be 14 which makes the whole thing seem very unlikely If this is a true reflection of Germany s attitude towards sex then I m surprised they re recognised as being so industrious I just don t know how they get anything done Well apart from each otherFinally I never ever want to see or hear the phrase mound of Venus ever again. Is is no isolated act of violence and German and American investigators will have to cooperate if they are to stop the slaughter Author Pierre Frei has searched the wreckage of Berlin and emerged with a gripping whodunit in which the stories of the victims themselves provide an absorbing commentary There is a powerful pulse buried deep in the rubble. Ere still very real concepts to most women of the time Twelve ears of brainwashing didn t disappear overnight The inspector s wife is either on her knees or standing in line for groceries That s her whole life There s no depth there What bugged me the most is that all the women in the book seemed to use their bodies every time they needed or wanted something It felt like Frei thought every man was looking for a uick tumble and every woman was willing to give it to them I love a great detective story and this is one But what separates this story from most novels is the emphasis Frei places on the CRIME VICTIMSFour or five blonde women are found murdered in post war Berlin A spree killer is on the loose The novel centers on the German policeman and his family and an American policeman stationed in the occupied city who team up to find the killer But not neglected are the women who were murdered All were fleshed out All the women had played a role some large and some small in anti Nazi activities during the war All were on the verge of life changing events that were cut still by the murderer s chainAlong with the crime story is an often humorous story of the German policeman s 15 A Hero S Heart year old The best thing I can say about this is that its plotting kept me reading to the end It s about a serial killer operating in Berlin immediately after its liberation by the Russians at the end of WW2 There are five murders and after each death Pierre Frei describes the life of each blonde female victim This gives him the opportunity to take the reader on a didactic journey through the Berlin civilians wartime experiences and the privations they particularlyoung females had to endure to surviveThe author was born in Berlin in 1930 so he would have been fifteen at the time of the book and it would be interesting to know whether he lived in the city then If he did he certainly remembered all the street and station locations and names well and he sprays them into the text to illuminate his knowledge than to advance the reader experience The structure forces the ending to feel rushed and tagged on The author s focus on the different ways that the victims used their attractiveness to men as bartering currency during the conflict introduced a morally dubious tone to the book as if Frei was implying that they somehow deserved their fateThroughout the book I was struck by how over described everything was including the sex and the way it gave the women power over men and I wondered whether because the book had been feted in Germany this was the result of the translation I was surprised to discover that the translator was Anthea Bell She was one of the top people in her profession who had worked with luminaries such as W G Sebald She died in 2018 after a distinguished career I hope for her sake that this book was not her swan song Note to self BE MORE CAREFUL I made the mistake of not realising I was buying a translation More than once I had the impression that when the translator didn t know a word she just picked the top suggestion at leoorg Awful Gauntlet for a simple bike glove Diadem for a tiara Medicament for a drug or medicine My worst and that was used than once is she carried a tray of vanilla ices on sticks PleaseWhat makes translation bungling like this so of vanilla ices on sticks PleaseWhat makes translation bungling like this so is that one loses one s concentration and keeps watching for botched language and in the process notices errors in the actual plot Either the editor was non existent or extremely sloppy some details are just not right for the time and the setting a few time references are wrong etcThe sub plot concerning the police inspector s son is not only predictable but unnecessary The few instances where it is aiding the plot could be achieved differentlyBut my biggest gripe is the picture of German women during WWII and the time preceeding it Apparently they all grew up with sexually healthy attitudes the one who who didn t wasn t really scarred by her bad upbringing and appetites and lead a relaxed and satisfying sexlife without any hang ups In addition none of them were Nazis at best they conformed without much thought due to their outh but objected on a personal and moral level if they weren t actually courageously fighting the fascists Yeah very believableThe only reason I m giving two instead of one star is the plot device that the victims are given a prominent voice than is usual in a who dunnit However these insertions are too long I ended up reading them after I finished the book as suchSince reading this I ve checked up on the translator and am pretty shocked about her credentials I seriously suspected a German translating into English She must have either hated the book not understood itthe time it is set in or she translated it in an appalling rush Although this was a 99p kindle deal and I m always a bit wary of bargainscaveat emptor etc the fact that the Sunday Telegraph review said that it was filled with brilliantly drawn characters mesmerizingly readable and disturbingly convincing sold it to me Sadly it was none of those three things and I suspect it was just trying too hard to be too many things At its heart it attempted to be a noir detective mystery with a serial killer stalking immediate post war Wes This is a whodunit with a difference Well with several differences It s about a serial killer and uite a lot of I am conflicted about this novel to be perfectly honest Frei s depiction of life and experience in the days immediately after the end of the war between the Allies and Germany has the serious weight of authenticity and lived history There s marvelous period detail a powerful evocative atmosphere of despair shame guilt uncertainty hunger deprivation and post traumatic stress on a national scale Unlike many serial killer stories the focus is on the murderer s victims and their lives used as a way to examine the Nazi ears from a variety of perspectives drawn from all levels of society some working better than others it must be said with a tendency to clich Tasked with solving the case of an ACCUMULATING SERIES OF MURDERS OF YOUNG series of murders of oung eyed blonde women strangled and horribly abused their bodies all found in the American zone in the district around Onkel Toms H tte housing estate U bahn station shopping area German Inspector Karl Dietrich is an engaging character He s a decora. Portrait of Germany before during and after the war It is 1945 in the American sector of occupied Berlin and a German boy has discovered the body of a beautiful oung woman in a subway station Blonde and blue eyed she has been sexually assaulted and strangled with a chain When the bodies of other oung women begin to pile up it becomes clear that th.
Read (Berlin: A Novel)