CLIO FINAL - page 37

In 1920s Munich, Kellerman’s backdrop for
this murder mystery is a war-torn city steeped in
political turmoil. The scene is one of total mayhem
as Hitler’s rise to power is well underway. Already
Jews, homosexuals, communists, modern artists
and nearly all other non-Aryan groups are being
persecuted, and it is the job of Inspector Axel Berg,
head of Munich’s Homicide Unit, to get to the bot-
tom of the brutal murders of three women, despite
the hindrances of racism and corrupt politics. As
Hitler incites the city to revolt against the Social
Democrats, gays, gypsies, and above all the Jews,
Berg must race to hunt down the ‘Munich Monster’
before the killer strikes again. This ‘Munich Mon-
ster’ is thought to be the murderer of a series of
women from all statuses of society and the Inspec-
tor is trying to find out who this ‘Munich Monster’ is
and whether the murderer was politically motivat-
ed. However, in the case of the first murder, Berg’s
boss is pressuring him to put the blame on the
woman’s husband, because he is Jewish. But Axel
Berg is persistent in attempting to solve the crimes,
and not just to close his case; he relentlessly pur-
sues this goal, despite the obstacles he encounters
along the way.
What sustains the reader’s attention
throughout is the fact that the closer Berg comes
to identifying a possible suspect, another clue leads
to another possible suspect. As he draws closer to
finding the ties that link the suspects to one an-
other, he ends up setting himself up as a victim for
the murderer and gets himself entangled in a web
of dangerous conspiracy, surrounded by potential
enemies. Kellerman manages to keep the readers
guessing until the end, by slotting in subtle hints
throughout the story and really surprising the read-
er with an unanticipated finish.
Overall, the context of this story very much
resembles the situation of the time, and explores a
setting and period rarely depicted. It is obvious
Kellerman thoroughly researched this period of
time since there were not very many known de-
tails about the city and the events, the struggles
of the working class citizens, the balance of family
and work life and, of course, the political climate.
However, if closely researched, there are a few
words which are foreign to Germany, such as the
term ‘Streetcar’, which in Europe, would be known
as a tram, however, that doesn’t majorly affect the
‘Straight into Darkness’ was a thoroughly
invigorating and gripping read, but if I were to crit-
ically analyse it, this story displays a huge amount
of negativity and I felt that nearly all the Germans
portrayed had poor morals (e.g. prostitutes, people
who could be bribed for anything, constant shun-
ning of the Jews) and didn’t really portray the better
citizens in German society. Despite this, I really
think that ‘Straight into Darkness’ is a must-read for
mystery and history lovers likewise since it provides
a great balance between suspense and immersion
in a historical period!
Saumiya Paheerathan 10LT
Straight into
Faye Kellerman
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