From Publishers Weekly
"A cesspool" is how one character in Taylor's ( Walking Shadows ) chilling new thriller describes post-WW II Berlin, a city of black markets, prostitution, corruption and widespread hunger. And just as the Cold War begins with the Berlin airlift of 1948, British military police captain James Blessed finds a young British soldier and his girlfriend brutally murdered. Convinced that the crimes point to something larger, Blessed, fighting off superiors and a bitter, neglected wife, relentlessly tracks the culprits. But each breakthrough is met with another savage killing. Meanwhile, Taylor takes the reader underground, to the "Kinder Garden," a den of streetwise orphan boys led by a charismatic teenage killer, Boss-Kind. When Blessed comes too close, the Kinder raise the stakes by kidnapping his daughter. Officially removed from the case, Blessed nonetheless continues to pursue the boys all over Berlin, and Taylor's meticulously researched geography gives the city the status of a major character in the novel. Except for a few odd and unnecessary digressions (like one about Blessed's parents and syphilis), most of the farflung clues align in the violent but cleverly orchestrated climax. Taylor's nightmarish portrayal of the Kinder'sok.eed naive barbarism and his intricate use of historical facts and locale make this a standout in a crowded genre.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
British novelist and translator Taylor (Walking Shadows, 1985) returns with an evocative tale set in the rubble of postwar Berlin, just as the Soviet blockade and the Allied airlift begin. Faintly echoing Oliver Twist, a band of thieving orphans in their nightmarish Kinder Garden is the main attraction, with Fagin transformed into Boss Kind, a young Jack the Ripper whose knife provides the corpses for the opening scene. James Blessed of the Special Investigation Branch tackles the case with his usual dogged determination, and as he moves obsessively into it, plagued by reminders of his own disastrous childhood, he isolates himself increasingly from both family and superiors, maintaining the grueling pace even as his wife leaves him. When daughter Daphne is abducted by the maniacal Boss Kind after an attempt on Blessed's life has gone awry, he's forced off the case. Continuing on his own initiative, he traps an informer and learns where Daphne is, leading to a showdown in the Russian sector in which the family secrets all come tumbling out. As much about family life broadly construed as about murder and drug-smuggling, the vivid portrayal of the Kinder Garden's society unto itself--where loyalty within the tribe is everything and adults are only ``Hats,'' never to be trusted--is profoundly moving. Next to this appalling reality of life in the ruins, the gentrified British scene seems lackluster and banal, so that the drama sinks into a maudlin mode whenever the Blessed family steps front and center. A fascinating, but flawed, thriller. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.