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The Sleepwalkersby Paul Grossman
Synopses & Reviews
During the final weeks of the Weimar Republic, a young woman washes up in the Havel River in picture-perfect Old Spandau. Bodies in rivers are hardly news in the chaos of 1932 Berlin, maddened by years of war, defeat, revolution, inflation, depravity, and now the Great Depression. But this one is different. Her dark hair is too short. Her wisdom teeth have been removed, something few German girls could afford. And her legs, dotted with suture marks, are bizarrely deformed, as if someone had taken giant pliers and turned them around inside her skin.
Willi Kraus is a decorated soldier and Germany's most celebrated Jewish detective, thanks to his recent success at nabbing a monstrous child killer. Sent to investigate the floater, his search leads him into a German underworld he hardly recognizes. A princess goes missing, a hypnotist has dark secrets to hide, and a new power is ushering in the tides of change: the Third Reich.
"Grossman's intriguing debut, set in 1932 during the Weimar Republic's last days, is given a strong dramatic rendition by Christian Contreras, assisted by his vast range of unique, credible German accents including boisterous full-throated aristocrats, cynical prostitutes, and sinister Nazis. His interpretation of the noir's protagonist is particularly on target. High-ranking Berlin policeman Willi Kraus, once considered the country's greatest detective, is a little late in realizing that his crime-solving expertise won't save him from the fate of being a Jew once Hitler is in power. Instead of following his family to safety, he remains focused on solving the murder of a young woman whose legs had been surgically deformed. But as the mood of the country darkens and his investigation turns political, he feels a new sense of vulnerability. Contreras provides the sleuth with a measured, thoughtful voice at first, slowly shifting to one filled with uncertainty, which, at several crucial moments, splinters with panic. A St. Martin's hardcover (Reviews, July 19). (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
A decorated Jewish detective solves a string of bizarre murders that brings him to the doorstep of the Third Reich.
About the Author
PAUL GROSSMAN is a professor of English at Hunter College in New York. He 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 Actor's Equity reading of his first stage play, The Pariah, last June 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. This is his debut novel.
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