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Germania: A Novel of Nazi Berlin    by Harald Gilbers order for
by Harald Gilbers
Order:  USA  Can
Macmillan, 2020 (2020)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Here's an unusual and rather convoluted historical mystery, Harald Gilbers' Germania, that begins in 1944 Berlin, undergoing regular Allied bombing. What's different about it is that Jewish Richard Oppenheimer, a skilled police investigator before the war, is forced by the Gestapo to track down a serial killer.

When an SD man (Security Protection Service) shows up in the designated 'Jewish House' where Oppenheimer lives with his wife Lisa (the fact that she's an Aryan has given him some protection), he fears for his life, but he's escorted by the SS to a crime scene. Hauptsturmfuhrer Vogler asks him for pointers. The corpse is that of a young woman who was strangled about six hours before and then moved to a church square in front of a World War I monument. She was tortured and her genitals were mutilated.

Oppenheimer's forced to continue as an adviser to the SS in this investigation that started nine months before. Lisa fears for him. She pushes him to go into hiding, and their friend Hilde begins to set things in motion. As the investigation proceeds, Oppenheimer's situation gets more and more precarious, leaving readers to wonder whether he'll be forced to flee before the killer is caught. He has several close shaves, but does manage to solve the case - and to live another day.

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