- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 14 hours and 29 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Books on Tape
- Audible.com Release Date: August 19, 2005
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B000B5VE90
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Straight into Darkness Audiobook – Unabridged
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(NOTE: In my first novel,The Heretic (Library of American Fiction), I dealt with the causes of the Spanish Inqisition. In the interests of full disclosure, I must add that Ms. Kellerman gave me a very gracious blurb comment for that book.)
The preface to Straight Into Darkness, written by an unnamed person, establishes a mood of darkness, doom, anti-semitism, woman-demeaning, pro-Hitler, unrepentant anger. "It is simple," he writes. "Germany didn't really lose the Great War ... Blame others, especially blame Jews ... Why should we take responsibility."
Kellerman chooses to tell the story of Hitler's rise to power in Munich in the manner she knows best, a complex detective story that allows her full rein to incorporate the horrors and pressures of the early Hitler years. There are several murders, and more than a few suspects, and the answers lie always just a bit out of reach.
It is interesting to see Kellerman skillfully developing new characters, after years of her detective series, where she and her regular readers know Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus as if they were family members.
In 1930s Munich, there are no heroes, but in Axel Berg and Martin Volker, Kellerman has created two intriguing characters, each competent and with some moral compass, but also seriously flawed, sometimes working together and then in conflict with each other. We don't know until Kellerman's thundering conclusion, which I will not share with you, how each finally resolves his response to those pressures.
"Straight Into Darkness" is Ms. Kellerman's second historical novel, The The Quality of Mercy being the first. I for one hope it is not the last.
Having now published two novels myself --- A Good Conviction, a NYC-based legal thriller which tells the story of a young man wrongly imprisoned in Sing Sing for a murder he did not commit by a Manhattan ADA who may have known he was innocent ... and The Heretic, a historical novel describing the persecution of a family of secret Jews by the Catholic Church on the eve of the Spanish Inquisition --- I have devised a self-education project to help me become more attuned to the techniques and styles of other authors, and thus (hopefully) become a better novelist myself.
"Straight Into Darkness" is one of the novels I've read as part of this self-education project.
I'm organizing my thoughts into various categories relevant to writing, such as ... "beginnings" ... "conflict" ... "characters" ... and others, and I've posted my observations as a blog, which turns out to be a wonderful way for me to organize and retrieve my notes.
This also puts my thinking in the public domain. So if you'd like to see my evolving comments about writing novels, I invite you to take a look at my "Education of a Novelist" blog.
You can reach my blog by searching the web for "weinstein education of a novelist."
The novel follows Axel Berg, a homicide detective in 1929 Munich. It is a time and place where Hitler is not yet officially in power, but he is definitely a figure of note with a popular following through intimidation and hate speech. Berg loathes Hitler, but is more concerned with the death of Anna Gross. Her murder does not appear to be the standard act-of-passion sort, but instead something graver. Berg is pressured into getting immediate results, and Anna's Jewish husband Anton winds up being the scapegoat.
The killings continue and the Nazis (including Hitler himself) use the incidents to their own advantage, creating greater anti-Semitism and promoting violent riots. Berg has his leads, but in a pre-computer era, following up on these clues is slow and difficult. Furthermore, his boss Volker is pushing him to arrest someone, even another innocent like Anton.
As a mystery, this story is okay, but nothing special. What pushes this up from three to four star quality is the characterization and atmosphere. I won't say the characters are perfectly defined, but they are more complex than what Kellerman typically offers. Peter Decker may have his faults, but he is clearly a hero; Axel Berg is more complex and less heroic. The environment of 1929 Munich is well-described (is it historically accurate? I'm not positive, but it's probably close); furthermore, it is a setting and period that I rarely see depicted in fiction; most novels about Nazis seem to take place later, typically around WWII. Straight Into Darkness is not a perfect novel, but it is a worthy effort by Kellerman and a good fictional depiction of the rise of Nazism.
Most recent customer reviews
Well written and very involving.