At the Edge of the Abyss
Berlin, Germany teeters on the brink of madness. In the last months of the Weimar Republic, a manic energy fills the city's streets--a city where every excess, deprivation and depravity can be found. Inspector Willi Kraus, the most famous detective on the Berlin police force (and its only Jewish one), follows the evidence wherever it leads, even if that gets him into trouble with his superiors or makes him a target for Nazi persecution.
Kraus has succeeded in spite of the non-stop anti-semitism of his fellow cops. He is rightfully proud of his achievements, which he attributes to hard work, persistence and an idealistic belief in justice as the defender of the weak. As the Nazis gain influence in the country, the city and the police department, Willi realizes that, in spite of his achievements, he will have no place at all in the world the Nazis are creating.
As Germany slides into the terror of the Nazi era, a Jewish detective fights to protect the vulnerable
Amazing books. Couldn't put them down. Grossman paints such a clear picture of Willi and those around him. What they worry about, love and fear. What they wear, where they live, the cars they drive, the food they eat. His family, his war buddies, his cop colleagues, the city they call home. Willi moves among the rich and famous and the poor and destitute--a great thing for the reader because we get to see it all. Grossman really knows how to write about the city--how to capture its energy and excitement.
The crimes Willi investigates have aspects that are lurid, over-the-top, incredible, not unheard of in genre fiction. But they would have jarred with the realism of the rest of the books except for one thing: history tell us that many of these same crimes were indeed committed during the Nazi years. So they foreshadow the future. They also made this reader very uncomfortable. Art does that sometimes.
Each book stands on its own. Children of Wrath (#2), is a prequel to the series.
Below, the novels in chronological order:
(2012, Willi Kraus Thrillers #2)
1929. Berlin, Germany. This is the case that made Willi Kraus the most famous homicide detective in Weimar Berlin. On the day the market crashes in New York, a backup in the Berlin's drainage system disgorges a burlap bag full of small bones that have been tied into intricate constructions. The medical examiner determines that the bones are from human children. The evidence takes Willi to the city's stockyards and a religious cult with a bizarre sexual ritual.
(2010, Willi Kraus Thrillers #1)
1932. Berlin, Germany. A Bulgarian princess disappears in Berlin. A young American woman with a shaved head and strange surgical scars dies of hypothermia in the Spree River. The evidence takes Willi to a naturist society, a bootgirl, an SS clinic and a popular hypnotist.
(2014, Willi Kraus Thrillers #3)
1933. Paris, France. Now a refugee, Willi must take any work he can get. A private detective hires him to trail a student, which seems straightforward, at first. But the student is murdered, Willi is arrested, the private detective disappears and the assignment takes a definite turn towards the sinister.