Blackout (by Simon Scarrow)

Blackout (by Simon Scarrow)Feels like I am walking in the shadow of Bernie Gunther! Simon Scarrow is now following in the steps of Philip Kerr. The late lamented Philip Kerr wrote 12 novels about wartime and post-war Berlin in the eyes of detective Bernie Gunther. In the same mould, Criminal Inspector Horst Schenke patrols the wartime streets of Berlin. Like Bernie he is a respected detective who gets results while not always pleasing his superiors. Neither detective likes the bully tactics of the Nazis so they are treading a fine line as they tackle crime in Berlin. They seem to inhabit the same locations like the Hotel Adlon and perhaps would have crossed paths!

Philip Kerr’s last novel Metropolis was not one of my favourites so a new slant from Simon Scarrow was appealing – plus a recommendation from Richard and Judy. Simon is more well-know for his historical novels such as the WELLINGTON & NAPOLEON QUARTET. Like all his novels he thoroughly researches the past, and so the locale and environment feels very authentic.

So setting the scene in wartime Berlin: Paranoia in the capital is intensified by a rigidly enforced blackout that plunges the city into oppressive darkness every night, as the bleak winter sun sets.

When a young woman is murdered, Criminal Inspector Horst Schenke is under pressure to solve the case, swiftly. Distrusted by his superiors for his failure to join the Nazi Party, Schenke walks a perilous line – for disloyalty is a death sentence.

The discovery of a second victim confirms Schenke’s worst fears. He must uncover the truth before evil strikes again.

As the investigation takes him closer to the sinister heart of the regime, Schenke realises there is danger everywhere – and the warring factions of the Reich can be as deadly as a killer stalking the streets.

The characters are well drawn and thoroughly believable The menace of the Nazis, and the chilling serial killer pervades the novel. There is some romance for Inspector Horst but the main theme is solving the crimes. There are the usual twist and turns you would expect in a thriller. So in summary a great introduction to Inspector Horst, his team and associates. I suspect there are more crimes to be solved in the future.

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