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Volker Kutscher Books In Order

Publication Order of Gereon Rath Books

Babylon Berlin (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Silent Death (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Goldstein (2018) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Fatherland Files (2019) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Volker Kutscher is a Germany author of historical fiction and crime novels known for his Gereon Rath series. He studied history, German and Philosophy. Besides books writing, Volker also works as a writer and journalist. His novels are set in Berlin, German during the Weimar Republic and contain a vivid description of the city during that time. His debut novel to the award-winning series featuring Gereon Rath was a hit in Germany. In 2011 the series won Berlin Krimi-Fuchs Crime Writers Award and sold more than a million copies globally. He’s now a full-time writer living in Cologne.

Babylon Berlin

Babylon Berlin is the first book in Gereon Rath series published in Germany as Der nasse Fisch. The novel introduces us to Gerson Rath; the main character in the story which comes from a questionable background. A retired Cologne detective, Rath was forced out of the department after a shooting incident where he was strongly involved. Because of the position of his father, Rash was able to be transferred to another squad in the Berlin Police Department to work as an investigative detective. From that point, the author provides a detailed glimpse to the belly of Weimar Berlin in 1929 as great depression lurks around the corner, and the right wing parts start to mushroom.

Volker Kutscher explores in details the role of pornography, drugs, and the actions of immigrants and their effects on German politics, crime, and society in general. Detective Rath soon finds out himself entangled in a couple of vice raids, but his heart is dedicated to solving homicides and busting porn film producers, prostitutes, and pimps. After a series of killings take place, Rath grabs the opportunity to solve them as a way of self-glorification to be promoted to the Homicide Division. He keeps crucial info from his superiors, gets involved in an accidental killing which he hides, falls in love with a stenographer. He does all these to gain promotion.

As the detective continues with his investigations, there is an atmosphere of fear due to the possible community demonstrations that could result in a coup against the government. The fear is further reinforced with the formation of a group known as the Red Fortress. The Pre-Hitler Berlin is on its full display as we can see the rise of the Nazi party and anti-Semitism with the dance halls and cafes infested with opium dens, corruption, alcohol, cocaine, labor unrests, and mob killings.

Berlin is a city where the ultra-nationalists and communists are at war with each other to crush Weimar Republic’s delicate democracy. Another component of the author’s plot surfaces as detective Rath finds a connection with a group of oppositional Russian exiles who try to buy weapons with gold stolen from Stalinist Russia. Rath’s machinations and actions should be destructive as he finds himself listed as a murder suspect. Detective Rath is a man with many dark secrets, which include post-traumatic stress disorder in the First World War, and the author doesn’t hesitate about presenting his main character as a person who is morally complicated as he tries to do good for his city.

The author introduces a couple of fascinating characters in his series debut novel. Some of the notable ones include the stenographer Charlotte Ritter, the woman who Rath falls in love with. Then there is Rath’s landlady named Elizabeth Behnke who is damped by Rath after a nightstand, DCI Wilhelm Bohm who Rath must deal with and Dr. Magnus Schwartz, who tests Rath’s response to autopsies. Overall, Volker Kutscher has woven a fast-paced story with plenty of twists and turns from page to page. It’s a story that promises to hook the reader’s attention right from the word go.

The Silent Death

The second in the series kicks off with a rather unfortunate death of an actress during a movie shoot. The killing begins a spree of murder targeting actresses. The movie industry in Berlin is undergoing a transformation from silent movies to talkies. There are very passionate supporters of both expression forms. Those who believe that silent films are the way to resist the talkies. The producers and directors embracing the talkies also know that sound isn’t an obsession and that the future of the film industry relies on the public desire for movies that embrace the new technology.

The battle between the talkies and the silent films mirrors the uprising that’s happening in the city. Two divisions, the Fascists and Community, are clashing as they woo the minds and the hearts of Germany. Rath’s father is a police legend in his Cologne home town. Even though he’s not a fan of his father, Inspector Rath still tries to impress him. Rath is determined to succeed but has a tendency of getting himself in trouble with his bosses. He also has an addiction for cognac, cocaine, and jazz, a lethal combination that could land him into serious trouble than his father can handle.

Additionally, Gereon Rath also suffers from nightmares that make it hard for him to get some good night sleep. He has a lover, Charlotte Ritter who isn’t shy about sharing her opinions, and this fact makes Rath fall madly in love with her. She is also at times, elusive as the actresses on the big screen. On the other hand, Gereon is determined to solve the cases even as his bosses try to pull him off the case. He will need to seek help from all his contacts whether it’s the suspect journalist Weinert or his gangster connection Johann. He may even seek help from his puppy friend, Kirie. But the killer turns out to be more sinister than Rath could have ever imagined.

Like in most mystery books, the setting and time and the characters in Gereon Rath series are quite interesting than the plot line. Kutscher does a fantastic job in describing to the reader how life was in 1930 and the events leading to the great economic depression and its effects on the streets of Berlin.

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