In the summer of 1936, the racial and political climate in Munich are growing tense, and Kommisar Rolf Wundt and his wife Klara are increasingly desperate to leave Nazi Germany while they still can. But when a member of the League of German Girls is found brutally murdered and posed in the yard of a dilapidated farmhouse, Rolf’s supervisor declares that they can’t leave until he’s solved the case. Rolf’s investigation leads him from the depths of the underground Communist movement to the heights of Germany’s elite Nazi society, exposing the cracks in Germany’s so-called unified society as well as the unspoken tensions in Rolf’s complicated marriage. Ultimately, long-buried secrets and overwhelming evidence are laid bare, but how can Rolf bring the killer to justice in a country devoid of justice? And how can he protect himself, his wife, and his former lover from the barbarism of a corrupt and power-hungry government?
The Summer of Long Knives by Jim Snowden is riveting in the best possible way.
It is the summer of 1936 in Munich, and the express elevator is free-falling through the circles of hell faster than the beer flows at Oktoberfest. And 'all' Kommisar Rolf Wundt has to do to be able to leave Nazi Germany with his wife Klara is to solve the murder of an Aryan girl. The Reich cares little for the lives of Jews, gays or people with Communist sympathies. But that's not supposed to happen to a member of the master race.
When the investigation stalls, veiled accusations are made that perhaps Wundt's heart isn't in it because he once had an affair with a "Jewess", and a Gestapo liaison is assigned to Wundt's team. In rather short order, the Gestapo man 'arrests' a mid-teen Jewish boy, who, with the aid of a little 'enhanced' interrogation (read stripped naked and beaten senseless in a concrete room - with a doctor in attendance (as a spectator?)) identifies his Jewish gang, all of which are subsequently tried in a (kangaroo) court of law, taken out and guillotined. There we are. 'Justice' served. Neat little package.
Except it's not. The killing does not stop. When Wundt gets uncomfortably close to the killer, another young girl's body shows up in his front yard, the modus operandi far too similar to the first case
And the machinations of the political machine keep getting more twisted and intricate. Who is the killer? How has he or she eluded capture for so long? Is this the first time murders of this nature have occurred? And does anyone else get the chills knowing that the Gestapo officer's name (Weissengel) translates to "white angel" in English?
The Summer of Long Knives is not for the faint of heart. This isn't 'Scooby-Doo vs The Third Reich'. It's more like "Disgusting Crime and (Lack of) Punishment". If you have any compassion, this book will make you angry, and scared - but in the best possible way, especially if it motivates you the next time you see someone being mistreated.
Put this book on your TBR list. To aid in getting it off your TBR list and into your head, I'll hold a random drawing on October 8th (one week from today) for one e-copy of The Summer of Long Knives for anyone commenting on this post.
(Disclosure: I received a print copy of this book from the author and publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.)