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The Russian Donation (Dr. Hoffmann series) Paperback

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Product Details

  • Series: Dr. Hoffmann series
  • Paperback: 318 pages
  • Publisher: AmazonCrossing (January 22, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612184308
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612184302
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,942 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

(Starred review) Spielberg’s stellar series kickoff, which won Germany’s Friedrich Glauser prize for best debut crime novel, introduces reluctant detective Felix Hoffmann, “a Don Quixote in scrubs,” who’s been an attending ER physician for eight years at a Berlin teaching hospital. Half a year earlier, soon after Hoffman treated Misha Chenkov, a Russian on the hospital’s cleaning staff, apparently successfully, Chenkov disappeared. Now, Hoffmann, who was looking forward to watching a soccer game on TV, is called at short notice to cover for a colleague on the night shift. His first case is Chenkov, whose skin looks yellow. The patient quickly expires—or was he DOA? Hoffmann, doubtful that Chenkov died of natural causes, thinks that something more alarming is at play. Disappearing medical records only heighten his suspicions. Hoffmann and his girlfriend, Celine, make a winning investigative pair, and his endearing persona elevates this well above the majority of hospital-based mysteries. (Jan.)

From Booklist

(Starred review) Originally published in Germany in 2001, the first book in the Dr. Hoffman series is a real corker. Dr. Felix Hoffman is an emergency-room doctor who is saddened by the death of a former patient, who not so long ago seemed to have nothing seriously wrong with him. Hoffman’s mood quickly turns to anger when he learns that the paperwork has been altered, rewritten to attribute an almost certainly false cause of death and to eliminate the possibility of an autopsy. Determined to get to the bottom of it, Hoffman stumbles into an intricate conspiracy that reaches from the bowels of the hospital to its highest offices. Spielberg, a physician, made a bit of a splash in Germany with this first novel, and it’s easy to see why. This is a very well constructed book, with a protagonist-narrator who is strong, resourceful, and unwilling to put up with any crap. Three more Hoffman novels are due to make their first English appearances soon, but anything less than immediately might not be soon enough for readers who crack open this cracking good thriller. — David Pitt

More About the Author

Christoph Spielberg, physician, cardiologist and author, lives in Berlin, Germany. Drawing from his experiences as a hospital doctor, Spielberg has created a series of fast paced mysteries featuring the dedicated doctor and reluctant detective, Dr. Felix Hoffmann. The first novel in this series, The Russian Donation, was awarded the highly esteemed Glauser Prize from the German Crime Writers Association. Other Hoffmann books have followed, including He who Dies Last, One hundred-and-one Nights and The Fourth Day.

Now, late in 2011, crime seems to run low at Dr. Hoffmann's hospital and Spielberg's attentions have turned to a new protagonist, Heinz Buscher, in his latest novel, Heinz and the Dog Murderers. Heinz has two big problems - he is over fifty, and nobody wants to employ an engineer of this age. Thus his interest in Julia, the intriguing and attractive new neighbor, seems pure folly. When Heinz begins courting Julia with a lie, the consequences are a tangled web. However, despite his mounting lies, Heinz solves a vexing crime.

Spielberg has a hunch that before long, Dr. Hoffmann will again be confronted with some criminal intrigue. And as before, Dr. Hoffmann's girlfriend, Celine, will insist they solve the case together, leaving Spielberg with two protagonists to take care of....

Literary awards for Christoph Spielberg:
Agatha-Christie-Prize, Friedrich Glauser Prize

Customer Reviews

One of the few books read that I had difficult time putting down.
Dian Atkins
I did finish it, but I found it overly complex, with way too much musing, not enough character development or plot, and generally just not to my taste.
K. Sozaeva
A well-written, fast-paced medical mystery that provides intriguing action and interesting characters to hold the reader's attention.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By lisatheratgirl VINE VOICE on November 18, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I love this book and can't wait for more!I'm going to get the German edition as well but I can tell the translator is doing a great job without losing the original tone and style of the author. Some authors make description tedious, but the main character here is witty and wry, makes it entertaining. When he wants to say a person's desk is cluttered, he says it "looked like a receiving dock for paper recycling." Dr Felix Hoffman is a cardiologist, like the author, and an emergency room phyisician in a large Berlin hospital that has recently gone private. He's overworked, underpaid, but can't resist becoming an amateur detective when dead bodies start turning up. His girlfriend Celine has an IQ of 155 and is a mathematician, who with various friends in tax and finance, help out when the complex financial shenanigans going on at the hospital are discovered. Throw in Hoffman's ex-girlfriend who was having an affair with the married COO, and the Russian mafia, and all the elements of a terrific plot are set in motion. I can just add, 40 years ago I lived around the Uhlandstrasse, home to the hostels of illegal workers from Eastern Europe, one block away in fact. Then there were students that lived in what I always called the flophouse. This was actually a respectable neighborhood before the two wars. Apparently it hasn't made a comeback yet.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Richard A. Mitchell VINE VOICE on October 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a solid mystery that will be enjoyed more by those in the medical field than those unfamiliar with hospitals and their (business) operations. It is as much an examination of hospital-for-profit life as it is a mystery.

The narrator, Dr. Hoffmann, is a tenured doctor in a West Berlin hospital that once was a teaching institution, but now is for profit. The change in economics and culture are as much a part of this book as his sleuthing. The book starts when a former patient of his comes into the emergency room DOA of some sort of jaundice. A year earlier, when he was first a patient of Dr. Hoffmann, he was beaten, but no sign of hepatitis or other disease. His records go missing and those the doctor can find have been altered, so Hoffmann is intrigued. He and his mathematician girlfriend go sleuthing. Russian mobsters and hospital administrators are soon in their sights.

The plot meanders a bit and can be verbose at times. The mystery is not at all what the reader expects, so the plot is good in that respect. However, the book gets bogged down by the hospital under story. This is not a medical mystery by any means. The plot is entwined in the operation of the hospital itself. Right, not that exciting. This is not exactly a thriller. How exciting can trips to the business registry be made? The resolution with the Russians is not quite believable, but, obviously, the book had to end with the narrator alive.

I'd recommend this to those involved with hospitals as other than patients. For those looking for excitement, I'd suggest going elsewhere.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Dr. Felix Hoffman is an ER doc in Berlin: overworked, underpaid, wrestling with the hospital administration, interns and the unglamorous grind that is emergency medicine. His professional - and personal - life is turned upside down when a former patient is DOA. As Dr. Hoffman begins to look more closely into the cause of death, he is pulled into a veritable labyrinth of misdeeds, malfeasance and interaction with the mafia. As Hoffman wonders, mid-way through the mystery, "Was everything bad I'd heard about about Germany actually true? Was my upstanding country - a boring stronghold of law and order - in fact no different from any corrupt Central and South American country?" What the "Russian Donation" is, and how Hoffman unravels the case is a riveting, very enjoyable read.

Hoffman is no sleuth - he stumbles his way through the clues, luck, stubborness and some outside help from his girlfriend (a mathematics teacher), but eventually the pieces of the death - and the wider conspiracy - fall into place. That Spielberg (himself a cardiologist) doesn't give readers anything easily to Hoffman (or the readers) makes for a great read.

The nature of the medical profession as a business added depth and nuance to the plot: most assume hospitals exclusively heal; while this is their primary objecive, they are, in the end, a business, and often are a very lucrative business at that. Spielberg gives readers a near-insider's glimpse into this oft-overlooked aspect of medicine, his experience and expertise as a physician lending credibility to the characters as well to the overall plot.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Angie Boyter VINE VOICE on January 6, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a translation of a German novel that won the Friedrich Glauser prize for best debut crime novel.
It's just another night in the ER of a large Berlin teaching hospital when a patient is delivered in an ambulance dead on arrival from undetermined causes. Dr. Felix Hoffman signs a death certificate that will call for an autopsy, only to discover later that a second death certificate stating "natural causes" has been substituted for his original. As a conscientious and curious professional, Felix wants to know why. Soon he and his mathematician girlfriend Celine uncover international intrigue involving accounting irregularities, money laundering, and more deaths before Felix finds an ingenious resolution that will keep him alive and his hospital in operation.
Felix, who narrates the book, is a likeable protagonist with a nice understated sense of humor. I only laughed out loud twice, but he made me smile a lot. The ending took me by surprise, but it worked.
Overall the book was enjoyable, but it has its flaws. The first part of the book was more a story of hospital life and hospital politics (which I found interesting) than a suspense tale, and Felix's tenacious pursuit of the issue of the death certificate seemed a bit excessive, especially given all the emphasis on how overworked the doctors were. The first body, other than that of the original ER patient, does not turn up until page 134.
One of the most interesting features of this book was the setting, but it was also confusing. It was interesting to compare German health care practices to what I am familiar with in the US.( I was especially amused by how quickly ER patients seem to be seen compared to my own local hospital!
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