It’s Dusseldorf and Peter Kurten is about to give himself up to Thomas Klein. He claims he is the serial killer known as the Ripper. Thomas has several problems, the largest of which may be Ritter, a superior officer with a personal grudge against Klein and the whose case this is supposed to be. He needs to know if Kurten really is the Ripper, what happened to the last little girl he took and what it is about Emma Gross that doesn’t quite fit.
I can sum this one up pretty quickly. It’s grubby and rough. In more detail, Seaman captures the grey drudgery of a city in depression along with the violence and corruption of the age and the police. The use of occasional but consistent German along with his feel for the country holds the reader in place and the characters are, frankly, all thoroughly unlike-able, but none the less compelling and it is possible to empathise even while appalled by the choices they make. By the end of the novel I found myself even sympathising with Tom and feeling his frustration.
The prologue kicks the whole book off with a short sharp shock and then the first chapter throws you right into to a novel that is a well written, rapidly paced, gripping procedural. The book doesn’t really revolve around the Ripper, like all the best procedural’s it’s about the detective, Klein and in this case very much about Ritter too and of course, the killing of Emma Gross.
I expect to hear a great deal more from this author, partly because he has a series of articles running here on unbound over the next couple of months, but also because it really is an excellent and deliciously dark crime novel. Seriously though, grubby and rough.