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Sleepwalkersby Paul Grossman
Synopses & Reviews
Berlin, 1932. In the final weeks of the Weimar Republic, as Hitler and his National Socialist party angle to assume control of Germany, beautiful girls are seen sleepwalking through the streets. Then, a young woman of mysterious origin, with her legs bizarrely deformed, is pulled dead from the Havel River. Willi Kraus, a high ranking detective in Berlin's police force, begins a murder investigation.
A decorated World War I hero and the nation's most famous detective, Willi also is a Jew. Despite his elite status in the criminal police, he is disturbed by the direction Germany is taking. Working urgently to identify the dead woman and solve the murder, Willi finds his superiors diverting him at every turn, and is forced to waste precious time on a politically-sensitive missing person case. Colleagues seem to avoid him; a man on a streetcar stops him from reading a newspaper over his shoulder; he is uncomfortably aware of being watched. But he persists, and soon enters the dangerous Berlin underworld of debauched nightclubs, prostitutes with secrets to hide, and a hypnotist with troubling connections.
As he moves through darkness closer to the truth, Willi begins to understand that much more than the solution to a murder is at stake. What he discovers will mean that his life, the lives of his friends and family, and Germany itself will never be the same
The Sleepwalkers is a powerful, dramatic debut thriller of a nation's unstoppable corruption, featuring a good man trapped between his duty to serve and his grave doubts about what, and who, he serves.
"Set in Germany in the fall of 1932, Grossman's less than stunning debut features Berlin police detective Willi Krauss, who's become a minor celebrity, despite being Jewish, after cracking the notorious Child Eater case. As the Nazis plot to gain control of the country, Krauss looks into the death of a beautiful young woman found floating in the River Spree with her head shaved and her fibulas surgically removed from one leg and replanted in the other. Meanwhile, the Weimar republic's president, Gen. Paul von Hindenberg, orders the policeman to work on another case, the disappearance of a Bulgarian princess. Though the author does a decent job of conveying the atmosphere of fear as Hitler manipulates his way to power, clichÃ©d plot elements, such as a hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold love interest for his hero, undercut his efforts at realism. Given the inherent lack of suspense (Krauss's detecting won't prevent the Nazis from succeeding), Grossman doesn't adequately compensate with complex characterizations. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"The Sleepwalkers" is a stunning debut with a strong, intelligent plot, quality writing and terrific atmospheric descriptions of Berlin on the brink of war. Rich with psychological insight, this is a disturbing, dark and very welcome addition to noir fiction.--MJ Rose.
Berlin, 1932 . . . the last days of the Weimar Republic. Beautiful girls are disappearing . . . sleepwalking through the streets . . . vanishing into thin air.
Willi Kraus may be the most famous detective in Germany---but hes a Jew. And the Nazis are on the rise.
When one of these gorgeous ladies turns up dead in the Havel River, her legs bizarrely deformed, Kraus is drawn into a labyrinth of intrigue that takes him through the decadent world of a city on the brink. Debauched nightclubs. Boot-clad prostitutes. A hypnotist whose star is hitched to the swastika.
Willis seen awful things in life. Fought behind enemy lines. Captured serial killers. But his forays into the upper echelons of the Nazi Party lead to discoveries that shock even him. . . .
The darkest recesses of human depravity.
In 1932, during the final weeks of the Weimar Republic, beautiful girls are seen sleepwalking through the streets. Then one day a young woman washes up in the Havel River with her legs bizarrely deformed. Willi Kraus---Germany's most celebrated detective---is sent to investigate.
Willi has seen awful things in life, has fought behind enemy lines in WWI, captured serial killers, but he's never seen anything like this. The investigation he undertakes will drag him through a world of debauched nightclubs, prostitutes with secrets to hide, and a hypnotist whose star is hitched to the swastika. Willi's life, the life of his friends, and even his family will never be the same. He's a Jew, and the Nazis are on the rise.
But while everything may come at a price, it's his duty to solve the murder. What he will uncover just may be the darkest part of human depravity.
About the Author
PAUL GROSSMAN has been a freelance journalist for many years with published articles in major magazines such as Vanity Fair and Details. He had a highly successful Actors Equity reading of his first stage play, The Pariah, at the Center for Jewish History in Manhattan—a drama about Hannah Arendt and the Adolf Eichmann war-crimes trial, which is currently in the hands of the Perry Street Theater Company for production development. He is also a long time teacher of writing and literature at Hunter College.
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