Stasi 77 * David Young

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Karin Müller of the German Democratic Republic’s People’s Police is called to a factory in the east of the country. A man has been murdered – bound and trapped as a fire burned nearby, slowly suffocating him. But who is he? Why was he targeted? Could his murderer simply be someone with a grudge against the factory’s nationalisation, as Müller’s Stasi colleagues insist? Why too is her deputy Werner Tilsner behaving so strangely? 

As more victims surface, it becomes clear that there is a cold-blooded killer out there taking their revenge. Soon Müller begins to realize that in order to solve these terrible crimes, she will need to delve into the region’s dark past. But are the Stasi really working with her on this case? Or against her? 

Jumping between Berlin in 1977 and Nordhausen 1943, the story follows a young businesswoman called Müller and a secret diary from a Frenchman, one of three brothers who was encamped.

I’m not a religious man. But if I was – and if I’d done some of the things that have been done to me and my compatriots and fellow prisoners – then I might imagine, one day, entering Hell.

Today, I no longer need to imagine.

For I have arrived.

The giant wooden door shuts behind us, and we’re engulfed in darkness. But we’re shoved on and on, even though most of us are too exhausted to lift one foot in front of the other.

I’ve read countless books about the war, from different perspectives – the camps, the hunger, the invasion of the French, the workers, the crimes of war, the humiliating aspects and it looks like the author picked some of the more common ones to weave a story around. It wasn’t fully original but it wasn’t bad either.

Major Müller is head of the Serious Crimes Unit in East Berlin during the 1970’s. She is called to investigate an unusual scene where the victim is bound and locked in a room with a burning fire. Accident, suicide, or murder.

Müller could tell something was wrong by the expression on the Stasi captain’s face as he entered the interview room. He was livid, and wouldn’t look Tilsner in the eye. Somehow – despite their precautions – it looked like they’d been found out.

‘I’m afraid your interview will have to end now, Comrade Major,’ he said to Müller. So she was right. The trainee detective ruse hadn’t worked. ‘I’ve instructions to take both of you to another interview room. Someone is coming from Normannenstrasse to see you.

It’s all about to go wrong when the state police, the Stasi, starts putting more and more blocks in the way of the Major to prevent the truth from coming to the surface. More compelling and intriguing plot twists lead Karin into as historical crime of epic proportions. Her life will never be the same again.

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