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Rosaby Jonathan Rabb
Synopses & Reviews
A murdered revolutionary...
A vicious serial killer...
A city in chaos...
All lead to Rosa.
In the last days of the First World War, socialist revolution swept across Germany, sending Kaiser Wilhelm into exile and transforming Berlin into a battleground. But for Detective Inspector Nikolai Hoffner and his young assistant, Hans Fichte, the revolution is a mere inconvenience. Four women from the slums of Berlin have turned up dead, all with identical markings etched into their backs, and Hoffner and Fichte have spent the better part of six weeks trying to crack the bizarre case.
Things take a troubling turn when the political police begin to show an interest in Hoffner?s investigation. Hoffner has no idea why the Polpo would want to get their hands dirty with a serial murderer, until he is shown the lifeless body of Rosa Luxemburg, the same eerie markings on her back. Rumors abound that Rosa, one of the leaders of the suppressed socialist uprising, was assassinated by an angry mob, but the pattern carved into her back tells a different story.
In his remarkable new thriller, Jonathan Rabb paints a vivid, unforgettable picture of a city and a people poised between the chaos of the First World War and the darkness to come, a time when political thugs, petty thieves, and charismatic leaders rushed to fill the void left behind. Into this gap steps Hoffner, who, while battling his own personal demons, is still determined to find out who is preying on the women of Berlin, even as he gets drawn deeper into the mystery surrounding Rosa?s death. Hoffner?s search for the killer leads him on a dark and twisted journey through the battle-scarred streets of the city, where he soon discovers that nothing is as it appears. And while he finds allies in unexpected places, he is met at every turn by men who will stop at nothing to keep him from finding out the truth about Rosa.
A genuine mystery at the time, Rosa?s fate has continued to prompt speculation to this day. Rabb?s taut political thriller imagines one strikingly real possibility. With his first two novels, The Overseer and The Book of Q, Rabb proved that he had a talent not only for writing suspenseful narratives but for illuminating the darkest corners of history as well. With Rosa, his finest work, he brings to life a world capital on the brink of chaos, a tragic revolutionary who both inspired and enraged, and a compellingly complex, world-weary, deeply flawed but brilliant inspector named Nikolai Hoffner.
"Based on the obscure four-month-long disappearance of the corpse of Rosa Luxemburg, the 'Devil Jewess' Socialist Democrat revolutionary, after her summary execution on January 15, 1919, this brooding, studiously researched fiction noir from Rabb (The Overseer; The Book of Q) imagines the maelstrom of conspiracy and political unrest in post-WWI Germany. For six dreary weeks, starting in early December, veteran Det. Insp. Nikolai Hoffner — along with Hans Fichte, an ambitious 23-year-old detective trainee — has been baffled by the corpses of middle-aged women appearing around Berlin with signature designs carved into their backs. In mid-January, Hoffner is called to see a fifth corpse in an abandoned subway station, and at the morgue, he is shown a sixth body — that of the infamous Rosa Luxemburg. Her corpse has similar markings, but there are subtle differences. These suspicious variations — coupled with the arrogant intervention of the powerful Polpo (political police), who spirit the corpse away to a morgue upstairs — launch Hoffner on a perilous, labyrinthine inquiry. Sometimes the novel's prose is rather tangled and Rabb struggles to get his story told, but subtexts of love, betrayal and a detective at war with his feelings illuminate this gothic tapestry of anti-Semitism and ethnic elitism with its foreshadowing of the Nazi era. Agent, Matt Bialer. (Mar. 1) Forecast: Fans of Philip Kerr and Alan Furst are Rabb's target audience, but his latest may disappoint them. " Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[W]onderfully evocative....This novel transcends the mystery genre by offering readers a glimpse into the economic and political chaos in Berlin after the war....Casting a longtime police detective as the hero works brilliantly..." Booklist (Starred Review)
"A novel so richly drawn, so dark and so compelling it reaches into your gut and holds on tight for more than 400 pages....Rosa is one of those rare books meant to baffle, move and shock a reader, that actually does all three in spades." Detroit Free Press
"In Rosa, Jonathan Rabb has created a fascinating tale of conspiracy and brutality in post-World War I Berlin, an evocative historical mystery that unfolds one horror after another. Rabb perfectly captures the dark beauty and complexity of this battle-scarred city, bringing Berlin to life as an utterly compelling and memorable character." Philip Kerr, author of the Berlin Noir trilogy
"Berlin is the chief character here, and Rabb artfully delineates the city as it emerges from war, defeat, and revolution into the shadow of nascent state terror." Boston Globe
"It is Jonathan Rabb's wonderful idea in Rosa to investigate Luxemburg's murder from the point of view of a Berlin police detective....[A] ghostly noir that could have been conspired at by Raymond Chandler and André Malraux." Harper's Magazine
"As before (The Book of Q), Rabb saps the strength of a perfectly good story by taking too long to tell it." Kirkus Reviews
"Any fan of historical mystery should read this. It's beautifully written, full of perfectly set period detail. And at its heart, it is a brilliant, real-life mystery transformed into fiction." Toronto Globe and Mail
"As the historical mystery thriller comes into its own, there can be no doubt that the genre has, with Rosa, gained a new and altogether exemplary voice: Jonathan Rabb." Robert Cowley, editor of the What If? series
From the bestselling author of The Overseer comes a riveting historical mystery about a German police inspector in post-World War I, post-Revolution Berlin, who stumbles upon the body of famed social activist Rosa Luxemburg and a conspiracy involving the highest levels of the new National Socialist government and the political police.
About the Author
Jonathan Rabb is the author of The Overseer and The Book of Q. He lives in New York City.
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