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Publisher's Summary

Berlin, 1929. Detective Inspector Rath was a successful career officer in the Cologne Homicide Division before a shooting incident in which he inadvertently killed a man. He has been transferred to the vice squad in Berlin, a job he detests even though he finds a new friend in his boss, Chief Inspector Wolter.

There is seething unrest in the city, and the Commissioner of Police has ordered the vice squad to ruthlessly enforce the ban on May Day demonstrations. The result is catastrophic, with many dead and injured, and a state of emergency is declared in the Communist strongholds of the city.

When a car is hauled out of Berlin's Landwehr Canal with a mutilated corpse inside, the Commissioner decides to use this mystery to divert the attention of press and public from the casualties of the demonstrations. The biggest problem is that the corpse cannot be identified.

Volker Kutscher was born in 1962 in Lindlar, West Germany. He is the author of the enormously successful Gereon Rath crime series which, in addition to compelling narrative, is notable for its scrupulous accuracy about Germany in the years between its beginning in 1927 and the approach to the Second World War.

©2016 Volker Kutscher (P)2016 Audible, Ltd

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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It's no Bernie Gunther Mystery ...

As a fan of Kerr's Bernie Gunther books, I was excited to read Kutscher series set in the waning days of the Weimar Republic. But what a disappointment.

Sadly, I think a lot of the problems stem from the fact that this book is translated. But I found the language clunky and and the story difficult to follow. There are a lot of characters, few with any real personality.

I fought my way through BABYLON BERLIN, and then even gave SILENT DEATH a shot because I so wanted to give the series a chance. But about four hours in to SILENT DEATH, I realized what the problem in both of these books really is: both books are almost utterly devoid of atmosphere. There's a smattering of history in BABYLON, but in DEATH there's very little to let you know that you are reading a book set in 1930s Germany; instead, it's just a boring police procedural.

I write this review mere days away from the Netflix premier of the BABYLON BERLIN TV series, which has been widely acclaimed. I have a feeling that this may be one of those rare cases when the TV show is actually better than the book.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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if you are a fan of German detective novels?...

Loved the narrator! Loved the setting and story! on par with Phillip Kerr Bernie Gunther series!

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Great story

loved it. Berlin, Crooked cops, Decadence, proto-Nazis. Noir. Schwarze. Negro. Liked the characters, plot, excema!

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Suspense, historie, well told.

Really love Volker Kutchers books. Alway a great story. Places described historiecally accurate. Humorous and intelligent. Warmly recommend.

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One case in which a film is better than the book

Having watched the serialized version of this book on Netflix, I will say this is one case in which the film is better than the book. Although the book is good, the film changes elements of the story, adding tension and more layers to the backstory and character of the protagonist, Gareon Rath, As well as the stenographer with dreams of being a detective, Charlotte Ritter. I don’t want to give any spoilers for the film version on Netflix but I highly recommend it. The Countess Sorokina plays a more major role in the film, and are some fantastic musical numbers and dance numbers in the film as well. Additionally, the Weimar era political situation and the liberalized mores of the time, encompassing drug use, homosexuality, and other elements, are woven into the fabric of the film masterfully. However the book was good on its own, and for viewers of the film, it provides an interesting counterpoint. The performance of the narrator is very strong. I have purchased the second book in the series by the same author and I’m looking forward to listening to it as well.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Hope More Titles Come to Audible

When I read the previous reviews for this novel, I was hesitant to download the book. I am a big Bernie Gunther fan, so that is a high bar for inter-war Berlin mysteries to clear.

However, I am happy I did choose to listen. The plot was good, although a bit slow at times. I also enjoyed Mark Meadows' narration. Overall, the novel probably could be a bit shorter, however, I chalk that up to character development.

I have already loaded the second Gereon Rath novel to my wish list. It will have to wait, there is a new Bernie novel to enjoy

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Tough book to listen to.

I adored Babylon Berlin on Netflix & was sad to get to the end of the final episode; so the story is definitely there. I just couldn't get in to the Audible book. Maybe the story is just too complicated for me to listen to; I certainly think the material itself is BRILLIANT but I'd find my mind wandering to things I need to do, people I need to talk to, etc., & then realize I was out of the book & totally lost. This happened over & over again. Ultimately couldn't get through it but because I love the story & characters so much, I'll likely try it again someday.

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  • Harrow
  • 01-03-18

Atmospheric, yet predictable, police procedural

I found this book to be very enjoyable but not genuinely gripping.

The atmosphere of 1920's Berlin comes through strongly which is just as well because the plot and characters are not particularly memorable.

The characters are the usual police procedural line up: lonely male with troubled past; senior officer showing him how to bend the rules; politically minded police chiefs; independent and very gorgeous young woman ; pseudo-sophisticated crime lord . . . I felt it was only the historical context which lifted the book. The Nazis, the communists and the ravers prowling the city were the most enjoyable parts of the book.

Narration is excellent and I will probably go on to explore the series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Dan Rose
  • 04-02-17

A Thriller of the First Order

Inspector Rath is a career Homicide officer from Cologne who inadvertently kills a man because of the adverse publicity his father who is a Senior Police Officer gets his son a transfer to Berlin using connections. No one in Berlin except the commissioner knows about the incident in Cologne.

I found Babylon Berlin to be a thriller of the first order, an engaging listen, full of twists and turns.
Indeed the story starts with a man who has clearly been tortured. His battered and bruised lifeless body is found in a stolen car which has been dumped in the river. But who is this man? Where had be come from? and why has he met such a grizzly end? Inspector Rath investigates and he finds out a lot about his new colleagues and Berlin along the way.

The narrative and narration are both excellent. I would highly recommend it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • TonySh
  • 01-20-17

Detailed and well constructed narrative

An interesting first novel with an engaging if flawed central character. The translation from the German original version is good and the reader's voice was clear and easy to listen to.

Looking forward to the next audiobooks in the series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Frankieboy
  • 09-01-18

excellent crime caper

love this book brilliant story line great story teller. will be listening again to this story. simply brilliant hooked on the story


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  • Crocker
  • 07-12-18

Dreadful monotonous narration

After five hours and nine minutes I gave up, the narration is monotone to the point of boredom, it is impossible to rate the story as this would involve putting up with the narrator for another 12.52 hours and that is a prospect too awful to contemplate.

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  • John Franks
  • 06-17-18

Confusing delivery of a good story.

I bought this book having seen the exceptionally good German TV production of the same name. Their attention to detail and historical accuracy was way up there with the very best albeit the story differed from the book slightly. My confusion really is with the ability of the books author to capture the environment of 1920's Berlin, or not as it happens. The story is a good one, most of the characters are well crafted and the period is fascinating particularly from a German perspective however its written in an American style modern procedural detective style complete with forensic departments and paramedics none of which existed at that time, indeed the entire narrative was littered with this type of misnomer.

All in all lazy research spoilt what should have been a particularly good book.

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  • Jason
  • 06-04-18

kept me gripped

I downloaded this as I really like Mark Meadows reading style. this is not my usual style of book but I'm glad I took a chance. very well written and kept guessing throughout. I have downloaded the next book in the series.

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • William Doody
  • 02-18-18

first class

excellent mixture of crime and politics set in a a very mixed up period of history

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Hellserch
  • 10-29-17

Weimar Wipeout

The detail in this type of historical novel is essential. The casual thriller reader is led, sometimes at a vertiginous pace, through the intricacies of German police politics. The decisions here felt personal and you can feel the breath of fatal events hanging over everyone, like a virtual Damocles sword: eerily prescient.

I struggled with the love interest if only because it seemed naive but considering the time it is set it, desperate love was the only constant on offer so I withdraw that caveat.

The best recommendation is the urge to share my pleasure at the topsy world of early 1930’s Berlin: madcap blend of cynicism and hope all in one.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-28-18

Wonderful insight into Germany 1929 Fanatastic

I love this book. Great detective crime suspense drama based on accurate research into historical events of the time. Releastic plot incorporating the disparate polictical factions at a pivotal point in history - monarchists, communists, stalinists, trotskyites, nazis and that were democratic socialists holding onto the fragile democracy of the Weimar republic in 1929. Things might have been very different if the Wall Crash of 1929 hadn't occurred. Lots of twists and turns with the plot anything but predictable. Likeable but grey heros and hereoines with multiple unflinching and unstoppable antogonists. The ending comes as acomplete surprise.