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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • David Richardson
  • 05-15-14

enthralling - eventually!!

What did you like most about Ostland?

The storyline that draws you into Heuser's decline from idealistic detective to cynical murderer

What other book might you compare Ostland to, and why?

Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther novels

Which character – as performed by Richard Burnip – was your favourite?

Heuser himself I think.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, especially as the events in Ostland itself unfolded.

Any additional comments?

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Gabriel
  • 03-03-14

Intriguing story of how evil can overtake good

Would you consider the audio edition of Ostland to be better than the print version?

I have not read the printed version but I found the audio version easy to follow and well read.

What did you like best about this story?

the characters

Have you listened to any of Richard Burnip’s other performances? How does this one compare?

this is the first Richard Burnip narrated story i have listened too

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It makes you think how you would react in similar circumstances. Im not sure how I would answer that question

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Tim Hall
  • 02-25-15

Extraordinary book, marred by dreadful narration

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

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'.

Would you be willing to try another one of Richard Burnip’s performances?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • 07-02-14

Bleak, but compelling..

What did you like most about Ostland?

The broad sweeping narrative. This is a harrowing story told on a grand scale but with well observed detail .

What did you like best about this story?

It is a story of both humanity and inhumanity. Repellent and compelling but gripping and demanding attention nonetheless.

What aspect of Richard Burnip’s performance might you have changed?

Sometimes the reader is a little too strident in his delivery. A little more contrast in tone would have been appreciated.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

From detective to destroyer... the story of a man corrupted by his ambition to succeed.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Sharon4
  • 06-25-14

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Dan Rose
  • 04-08-17

A Gripping Account of One Man's Life

This a good book, a worthwhile read. Particularly if you are a fan (like me) of Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther or Luke McCallin's Gregor Reinhardt.


Although this book is a work of fiction according to the author, it is based largely on actual events, indeed the majority of the characters in the book are real people. The events in the book did happen.


The book commences with the Berlin working on the S-Bahn murders an actual event in which six women were killed in or around Berlin's rail network. An idealistic young officer, Greg Hauser, who had just arrived fresh from a fast-track course at the police college.  He went on to play a key role in the investigation.


As the book develops it becomes clear that Hauser is keen to make a good impression with his bosses and follows the orders they give him. After the Ogorzow case many officers were sent to the eastern front to form police battalions who's role amongst others was to round up and exterminate Jew's.


I enjoyed the book but I found it a difficult listen in part. But it is based largely on the real life of one man., although there were thousands of others with similar experiences.

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  • Chris the gardener
  • 02-19-16

Gripping and horrifying

This is not for the fainthearted but I found the book held my interest throughout. Based on a true story in war time and post war Germany,it is a truly fascinating tale. I recommend this book as a very thought provoking listen.

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  • Gabriel
  • 01-23-16

Very good

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.

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  • Mr.
  • 04-13-15

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.

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  • Larry
  • 02-10-15

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