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  • Writer's pictureMandy McHugh

Germania, Harald Gilbers: A Review

I tend to enjoy international crime thrillers, and Germania's synopsis sounded both high-stakes and action packed. I was excited to jump into this one. 

When former inspector Oppenheimer is approached by the SS to assist in a sensitive investigation, he's wary to accept the request. As a Jewish man living in war-torn Nazi Berlin, there's no safe way to do what Vogler is asking him without endangering his life. But as details come to light and he realizes a serial killer might be targeting vulnerable women, Oppenheimer chooses to help the investigation, realizing that solving the case might be the only way he'll make it out alive. 

I enjoyed this book.

For someone who doesn't read much historical fiction, I found the narrative to be interesting and full of incredible details I hadn't heard or considered before. Gilbers expertly wove facts into conversation and observations, adding depth to the characters and enriching the plot. And speaking of plot, I thought the murder mystery worked really well here. I didn't expect to like the structure as much as I did. I feared the layered mystery set against an already tense and precarious setting would be overcrowded or sensationalist, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Indeed, this is an immersive read that packs a punch. Oppenheimer's struggles were both heartbreaking and stressful, and as the story unfolds, you become more unsure of whether or not he'll survive the ordeal. 

As a character, Oppenheimer reminded me a bit of House. His quirky relationships with others, his frank observations and (sometimes) bent moral compass, not to mention the pain killers--he's an endearing protagonist with a lot of reasons to explode, and when he doesn't, he becomes all the more interesting. 

I did find some of the reading to be a bit dense, and this is definitely not a one-sit read, but I appreciated the experience and found Gilbers writing to be insightful and clever. 

Overall, Germania is a high-octane crime thriller with twists, turns, and plenty of bloody mayhem. I'd recommend to anyone who likes their reading with a historical angle, fans of international crime reads, or anyone who's looking for a fresh perspective on a serial killer on the loose. 

Big thanks to St. Martin's Press/Thomas Dunne and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.


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