Monday, March 12, 2018

Review: Babylon Berlin by Volker Kutscher

Title: Babylon Berlin
Author: Volker Kutscher
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Picador USA
Publish Date: 2007 (originally published)

Source: PR

What's the Story?:

From "It’s the year 1929 and Berlin is the vibrating metropolis of post-war Germany – full of bars and brothels and dissatisfied workers at the point of revolt. The strangest things happen here and the vice squad has its hands full. Gereon Rath is new in town and new to the department. Back in Cologne he was with the homicide department before he had to leave the city after firing a fatal shot.

When a dead man without an identity, bearing traces of atrocious torture, is discovered, Rath sees a chance to find his way back into the homicide division. He discovers a connection with a circle of oppositional exiled Russians who try to purchase arms with smuggled gold in order to prepare a coup d’├ętat. But there are other people trying to get hold of the gold and the guns, too. Raths finds himself up against paramilitaries and organized criminals. He falls in love with Charlotte, a typist in the homicide squad, and misuses her insider’s knowledge for his personal investigations. He gets entangled in the case more and more, dirtying his hands and eventually ending up as a suspect himself.

Volker Kutscher tells the story of a lonely and fiercely determined inspector in a city which, in all its restlessness and hedonism, appears to be astonishingly modern – and whose fate is already traced out."

My Two Cents:

"Babylon Berlin" is the first book in a series about Gereon Rath, a man who finds himself in the big city of Berlin after coming from a smaller city where he had to leave the police department in disgrace. He's looking to turn around his life in a new place: Berlin. There is so much going on in Berlin at this time (late 1920s). It's the time of the Weimar Republic and the crimes that take place there threaten to wrap up even those fighting for justice like Gereon. Will Gereon end up disgraced again?

I have been thoroughly enjoying watching "Babylon Berlin" on Netflix. It's an exciting show with a lot of gorgeous detail that transports you to Berlin. I was excited to see how the book stacked up with the miniseries. While there are some differences, the feeling between the miniseries and the book are the same. The miniseries is a little more glitzy, while still capturing the grittiness that weaves its way throughout the book. There are other differences in the story lines but I don't want to give anything away!

Gereon Rath is a great character. He is the kind of fallen hero that we all like to root for but he also has a lot of demons. He is flawed but you still want things to turn out okay for him. He goes through so much throughout the book and really grows and changes. It will be interesting to see where the future books take him.

I loved the setting! I don't know very much about the Weimar Republic years as they seem to largely set up for some of the later chaos wrought on Germany by the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s. I thought that the author did a great job of capturing everything that was going on.

The writing was good. It did get bogged down in a few places and I can't tell if it was the story or the way things were translated. The plot moves fairly well for the most part though. Overall, this was a pretty good story!



  1. New to me story and author. Thank you for the review.

  2. I loved the series on Netflix.I thought it really nailed German Expressionism. I am going to start to read the series too.


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