cover image Germania: A Novel of Nazi Berlin

Germania: A Novel of Nazi Berlin

Harald Gilbers, trans. from the German by Alexandra Rosech. St. Martin’s/Dunne, $28.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-24693-6

What would it be like for a Jewish detective to work for the Nazis on a serial killer case? That’s the intriguing premise of Gilbers’s stellar debut, which won the Glauser Prize for the best German crime novel. Before Jews were forbidden from working for the police, Richard Oppenheimer was one of Berlin’s best criminal investigators. Late one night in May 1944, SS Hauptsturmführer Vogler summons Oppenheimer to a crime scene. Arrayed before a WWI memorial is the body of a young woman with nails driven into her ears; her pelvic area is a “single massive wound.” Vogler reveals that two other women were slaughtered in the same way over the preceding nine months, and in desperation the SS has turned to Oppenheimer, who once apprehended another serial murderer who mutilated women. Despite his new role, Oppenheimer is still at risk in a city filled with anti-Semites. When evidence surfaces that one of the victims was connected with Lebensborn, Himmler’s program to produce children with as pure blood as possible, the investigation becomes even more delicate. Gilbers makes Oppenheimer’s fears, and the moral compromises he makes, palpable. Philip Kerr fans will want to check this out. Agent: Kerstin Schuster, Droemer Knaur (Germany). (Dec.)