This is a great book and I would recommend this book to everyone. The story is different to the previous two books in this series, but stands alone and prior knowledge of the other two books is not necessary. The story starts slow, over the first 50 or 60 pages. But stay with the book as the book gets better and better. There are a large number of books about Berlin policeman, during WW2 and soon afterwards, so I was hesitant to read another book about this era. But this book is worth the effort and very good. This book is as good as Phillip Kerr's "Gunther series"
"A Divided City", by British author Luke McCallin is the third in his series of German policeman Gregor Reinhardt. The first two were set in the Balkans, but this last of the series is set in 1947 Berlin. Reinhardt has returned to Berlin and to the police force. But the force is different than when he'd left years before and he found himself working with men he didn't trust, and, who, in turn, didn't trust him.
The plot of "A Divided City" is very complex, perhaps made so by the fact that life in post-war divided-into-four-parts Berlin was very complicated. Was anyone's allegiance unquestionable? Was anyone not for sale for the right price...Lucky cigarettes being the prized currency? Was anyone's "history" uncomplicated? No, no, and no. That was life in post-war Berlin and Gregor Reinhardt had to work with those limitations when investigating a series of murders. Men - former German airmen - were being found dead, and their deaths seemed to be from a form of water-boarding-gone-fatal. Complicated by dissent in his own police station, wariness between the four occupational powers, and the general hardships of 1947 Berlin, Reinhardt tracks this serial killer, while sensing the motives behind the murders may not be what he suspects. And, of course, people's identities are as shifting as their loyalties.
Luke McCallin writes a very complicated, but interesting story that is a look at both the battle-torn city of Berlin and the divisions the loss of the war has brought. For the right reader, the book is a great read.
In his third (and final?) book in the Gregor Reinhardt series we find the former Whermacht captain discharged from the service in 1947 Berlin. He’s come full circle, before the war he was a detective for the Kripo (Criminal Police) in Berlin, then he joined the Army and became an intelligence officer in the Abwehr (military intelligence) before becoming a Feldjaeger (military police) officer. Through an American friend Reinhardt is back with the post-war Kripo but things are very different now and the force is staffed by many newcomers who are openly hostile to him.
The story starts out with a bang and a mysterious double homicide. There are some strange and unique elements to the case and Reinhardt is quickly led into a complex web of deception, revenge, Nazi atrocities, Soviet interference, and a chameleon-like serial killer. Our drama plays out against the ever so bleak backdrop of the city’s ruins and its citizen’s desperate struggle to survive the elements and starvation.
McCallin spins an engaging tale and the pace is fairly brisk with some twists along the way. Reinhardt has been through a lot and when the story lags it’s when he gets bogged down ruminating over various maudlin thoughts about the past. Comparisons are inevitable to the late, great Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther series but Gunther is much more cynical and amusing, he’s also less of a victim than Reinhardt and to me more fun. Overall “The Divided City” is a satisfying read, especially if you like historical fiction set in the WWII period. In his end notes McCallin implies in a cryptic paragraph that this book is the last one he’s writing about Gregor Rheinhardt, fans will hope that it’s not so.
This book is the third in a trilogy, and you should read them in order. I think this was the best of the three, but do not start with this one. I love historical fiction, but throw in a good detective story and some Nazis, and you can't miss. This period right after the war is one that I find especially interesting. The lawlessness that was mixed in with the struggle for some semblance of normalcy and order is quite an enticing mix to read about. Luke McCallin does a marvelous job of describing the chaos in which his story takes place, and his historical research is meticulous.
I somehow missed this book upon release, so it was like finding cash in an old jacket when I came upon it. Complex, engrossing, with great character development. Like David Downing, and Phillp Kerr's Bernie Gunther series it shines a fascinating light on wartime Berlin. My godmother and godfather were Berliners during the warand reading the books makes me feel close to them again....and wish I had some of the insight I have gained while they were still alive. Meanwhile, the one star review that knocks the book down to 4.6 is not even about this book! Come on, Amazon! Fix that. The novel deserves better.
What makes the Gregor Reinhardt series such a great read is, well, everything! The storyline is elaborate though not to the point of confusion, and the historical context does not just provide a background for the main story, it's entirely part of it. There is quality in the style of writing, and in the myriad of details of a certain time and place in European history, researched with great detail. You learn a lot when reading these novels, and the main character is not the usual alcoholic, manic-depressive, cynical police detective. He's also got a history, and you just wished you knew the whole story, but well, you won't, as this is the third and last instalment of the series, which is the only disappointment of this book.