cover image Blackout


Simon Scarrow. Kensington, $27 (384p) ISBN 978-1-4967-3973-5

Horst Schenke, the protagonist of this exceptional mystery set in 1939 Berlin from British author Scarrow (the Eagles of the Empire series), became a respected Kriminalpolizei inspector after a near-fatal accident six years earlier ended his career as a racing driver. His decision not to join the Nazi party has stymied any hopes for advancement, but his distance from the party leads to his being tapped to investigate a high-profile homicide. Once-prominent film star Gerda Korzeny, ex-mistress of Josef Goebbels and wife of the Nazi attorney “who rewrites certain laws to make the party’s actions legal,” was found near some railroad tracks, her skull crushed by a single blow. Korzeny’s possessions were undisturbed, and her state of undress suggests she was resisting a sexual assault. Schenke’s role is to reduce the prospects of friction between Nazi factions and to serve as a scapegoat if things go south. Scarrow plausibly conveys the complexities of his hero’s efforts to do an honest job of seeking justice while serving under a corrupt and criminal regime. Fans of Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther will hope for a sequel. Agent: Luigi Bonomi, LBA Books (U.K.). (Mar.)