Longtime Readers may recall that I’ve confessed to a guilty pleasure: reading writer John Sandford’s novels (both the Lucas Davenport- and Virgil Flowers sagas). Well, old Lucas is getting a little long in the tooth (although his latest career move seems to have rejuvenated him), and I’m a little iffy about Virgil Flowers’ character, so subconsciously I’ve been looking for a replacement guilty pleasure — and I think I’ve found it.
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce Volker Kutscher‘s Inspector Gereon Rath of the Berlin CID’s Homicide Division. Except that whereas Davenport and Flowers are both set in contemporary Minneapolis, Rath is busy solving murders in Depression-era Berlin — to be specific, 1929-1938: one of my all-time favorite periods of history, and my dream setting for a novel*.
I think Rath is one of the best characters in fiction, of any genre, and I am so fortunate to have discovered him. (By the way, I found Babylon Berlin by chance at Foyle’s Books, which makes up for my disappointment at their “modernization” of the venerable establishment.) I read the novel in one night, and went straight back the next day to buy Silent Death.)
And the novels really are terrific: as I said, Babylon Berlin took me just one night to read and Silent Death only a little longer than that, because I didn’t want it to end quickly, so much was I enjoying it. Sadly, only these two (of the half-dozen Rath novels extant) have been translated into English so far, so I won’t be able to binge-read them; but you can be sure I’ll buy the rest as soon as they’re available. (Sadly, my conversational German is adequate, but my literary German is schrecklich, so I’ll just have to be patient.)
Even better, Babylon Berlin has been made into a 16-part TV series for German TV, so if anyone from Netflix is reading this… oh, wait: someone’s on the ball already. I can’t wait.
*I was contemplating writing a companion piece to Vienna Days, to be set in 1928 Berlin, but there’s no need now: Kutscher has relieved me of the responsibility. So: 1900 Budapest it will have to be.