February 1941, wartime Berlin. Brilliant, idealistic young detective Georg Heuser joins the Murder Squad in the midst of the biggest manhunt the city has ever seen. A serial killer is slaughtering women on S-Bahn trains and leaving their battered bodies by the tracks. Heuser must confront evil eye-to-eye as he helps track down the murderer.
July 1959, peacetime West Germany: a pioneering young lawyer, Paula Siebert, is in a federal unit investigating men who have committed crimes of unimaginable magnitude and horror. Their leader has just been arrested. His name is Georg Heuser. Siebert is sure of his guilt. But how could a once decent man have become a sadistic monster?
©2013 David Thomas (P)2013 Oakhill Publishing
"An intriguing mix of detection, thriller, courtroom drama, fact and fiction." (The Times)
"With subtlety and intelligence, Thomas joins the historical dots to produce a novel with plenty to say - eloquently - about the brutalising effects of the Holocaust." (Guardian)
"Very rarely do books reach into your psyche and take root. Ostland came along and kicked my door down. A wonderfully thought-provoking novel. Educational, entertaining and emotive throughout ... a first class read by an author at the top of their game." (Crimesquad)
"This nightmare-inducing new novel stretches crime fiction to its limits ... a compelling read." (Mail on Sunday)
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"enthralling - eventually!!"
The storyline that draws you into Heuser's decline from idealistic detective to cynical murderer
Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther novels
Heuser himself I think.
Yes, especially as the events in Ostland itself unfolded.
I think the two-era narration is an unnecessary device which could be removed from the novel without unduly affecting it. There are a number of predictable tropes such as Bine's move to Hamburg being followed by her death in a firestorm.
"Intriguing story of how evil can overtake good"
I have not read the printed version but I found the audio version easy to follow and well read.
this is the first Richard Burnip narrated story i have listened too
It makes you think how you would react in similar circumstances. Im not sure how I would answer that question
"Bleak, but compelling.."
The broad sweeping narrative. This is a harrowing story told on a grand scale but with well observed detail .
It is a story of both humanity and inhumanity. Repellent and compelling but gripping and demanding attention nonetheless.
Sometimes the reader is a little too strident in his delivery. A little more contrast in tone would have been appreciated.
From detective to destroyer... the story of a man corrupted by his ambition to succeed.
"Good, but not an easy listen"
This is an intense, harrowing legal thriller and although I'd recommend it, you really need to be in the mood. The bulk of the narrative concentrates on the progress of a young police detective, as he progresses from a conscientious idealist, to someone he can hardly face in the mirror. The scenes in and around Minsk, where he commits his dreadful crimes, becoming worse, by far than the serial killer he locks up, are hard to forget.
The narrative is split in two, and while one part concentrates on Germany and Russia in 1941-3, the other is about 1961 and the legal repercussions of the crimes against humanity. I didn't find that part as compelling; twenty years on, West Germany has been established and the Cold War is in full throttle, but Europe is mostly peaceful. The scene is useful, as a foil to the horror of the earlier events, but neither the characters or plot grabbed me in the same way.
Richard Burnip is a competent narrator, very good with some characters, not so much with others, but he keeps the story rattling along and I was never bored by his delivery.
Very good with an insight to what wars does to good people. It shows how the wrong people in power can do so much evil if there is not good checks in place.
"Clunky story-telling mars a good plot"
There is much to admire here - the research is obvious and the attention to detail almost obsessive at times. The drawback is that the story doesn't really have a narrative cohesion; the early parts on the S-Bahn murders sits awkwardly with the latter section on Heuser's descent into mass murder.
The author's style also jars at times; clunky cliches in the writing and plodding use of dialogue detract from what could have been a gripping account.
The narration is good, though. Richard Burnip is an experienced hand and delivers a nuanced performance which is too often let down by the writing. Shame.
"Extraordinary book, marred by dreadful narration"
The novel is an extraordinary achievement in that it enables the reader to at least understand (although not sympathise) the journey that some human beings made as they progressed to becoming mass-murderers. This should possibly be read in tandem with Christopher R Brownings' 'Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 11 and the Final Solution in Poland' and Daniel Goldhagen's 'Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust'.
No, or at least, with great reluctance. When I listen to an audiobook, it's because I want to enjoy the text, not because I want to hear a performance. Richard Burnip is an actor, and so he 'acts' the book. The range of accents is frankly bizarre, including some that are camp, or pantomime or even, just 'wrong'. The accents detract from the text, constantly pulling the listener concentration away from the story. It was bad enough to make me consider actually buying the book to finish, and dumping the audiobook. A shame - the book deserves better.
"Hard going but shocking"
For me I love autobiographies but a friend recommended this as he knows I am interested in the holocaust I found it very slow to start but as it went on it shows the horrors that went on in those years Told from the perspective of those "poor" Nazi officers that had to carry out the atrocities!! Listen and you will understand my comments
"Uncomfortable real and compelling"
A story based on actual events that expertly depict the horrors of the Nazi approach to dealing with 'the jewish problem' and brings the full horror in a well written and researched account against a partially fictitious background
The description of the murder of the 3 Russian partisans told the tale of how far one man can fall from the moral high ground
Georg Heuser being the central character dominates the book as it is broadly his narrative and whilst his actuals thoughts are down to David Thomas's imagination his actions as described are cold hard facts
The detail that the Nazi machine went to fund the holocaust ( charged per mile per head by the Reichsbahn) and the distances that they would move it's victims to achieve their aim was jaw dropping
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