Firstly, I would like to thank Anne Carter and Oldcastle Books, for a review copy of this book in return for a fair and honest opinion.
Ashes of Berlin is the third in a series of Gregor Reinhart novels set against the backdrop of a ruinous Berlin. Reinhart, the hero of the tale, is now back serving in the Berlin Police force and investigating the murder of a group of former airmen. I’ve not read the first two books, but The Ashes of Berlin reads perfectly as a stand alone novel and i’m sure will also delight those already fans of Reinhart.
There are many reasons why I loved this book, firstly its the way the author evokes the devastation of the German capital at the end of World War II. The utter destruction of buildings, and the despair and loss of hope, that seeps off the pages into the mind of the reader. You can feel how the city is enveloped in a fog of melancholic despair. The characterisation of Reinhart himself is perfect, with the right combination of anger, determination and doggedness that mixed together gives us the flawed hero of the novel. He functions well because he has suffered the same fate as his fellow Berliner’s. He is a part of the city, yet alienated from many of those that control it now and caught between the opposing occupying forces of France, Britain, America, Russia and his superiors in the Berlin Police force. Like so many famous hero’s of detective fiction, Reinhart has a healthy disregard for his superiors and many of his colleagues, while he’s troubled by a past that comes back to haunt the present.
The story itself makes the most of the city setting, giving it an atmosphere of edginess. It’s not a typical fast paced thriller either, the author has invested in building up the tension between the occupying forces and the people divided under their control. It’s full of powerful imagery and portrays a city full of people barely surviving and desperate as a result. In this atmosphere of recklessness a series of murders occur, the killer seeming to seek retribution for past crimes. Reinhart refusing to give into intimidation, determined to track down the killer and bring him to justice. I was drawn along and hooked from page one to the very satisfying conclusion.
McCallin writes a very intelligent thriller and one that fills the readers head with imagery that makes them feel they are walking in the hero’s footsteps, experiencing his frustrations and despair as he does. I hope this is not the last novel to feature Reinhart’s exploits, because along with Robert Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike he has fast become a favourite character of mine. He is flawed, but doggedly determined and brave in the face of overwhelming forces.
A first class novel.
The author can be followed on Twitter at @mccallinluke and has an author page on facebook.
Published by Oldcastle Books
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