You could be forgiven for believing that the zoo is a place of peace and calm in the center of the hectic city. Family outings, the lure of the (caged) wild, an exploration of that which is otherwise only to be seen on National Geographic. There are lions and tigers, antelope, elephants, reptile houses swarming with snakes all put on exhibition to enthrall and educate. What goes on behind the scenes, though, is seldom seen: the animals need to be fed and, as we all know, they tend to eat one another, and each one has to be catered for according to individual needs. The killing for food is one thing, but there is another killing on this spring morning in the Tierpark in Berlin. This time it is not to feed the animals, this time it is a brutal murder.
Within a few days Charlie Rubin, responsible for preparing the food each animal eats during the course of their lives in captivity, has admitted the crime and is being held by the Berlin police. Not everyone, however, is happy with this speedy result. Sanela Beara, a young policewoman who was one of the first on the scene, has her doubts, having spoken to Rubin at length. Jeremy Saaler, a young psychologist still learning his chosen trade, assisting Professor Brock in assessing the mental capabilities of the suspect, is also not convinced of her guilt.
Photo Credit: 96dpi – Creative Commons
Elizabeth Herrmann takes us from the hustle and bustle of Berlin life out into the peaceful world of surrounding villages, where life continues in a completely different vein, where the changes in German society since the reunification have had other effects than those the politicians wished for. She shows us life in a land still reeling from the long rule of a socialist government, where the chances of a job let alone making an adequate living are a constant struggle. In Wendisch Bruch she shows us the other side of the new prosperity but, even here, things are not as they may seem on the surface. A village slowly dying, the men disappearing under mysterious circumstances, and a disinclination to accept strangers all add to the well-formed, well executed plot.
Two separate investigations, neither one of them approved, follow the threads of a story which stretches back over twenty years and bring these threads masterfully together in a thrilling ending which will capture the imaginations of all those who love real amateur detective work. Well, known in Germany, some of her books have already been filmed, it’s about time the English-speaking world got to know Elizabeth Herrmann better too, and placed her in the position her books deserve, at the top of the bestselling lists for intense, well-written crime novels.
Published by Goldmann Verlag (German). ISBN 978 3 442 48114 9.
- Viktoria Michaelis.