The setting for this book is what made me check it out of the library. I had never seen a historical fiction set in Prussia and while I’ve never really looked for one, it seemed like such a good location for a mystery that I decided to give it a try.
The year is 1804 and Hanno Stiffeniis, a young magistrate, is summoned to Königsberg to take over the investigation of a series of murders that is paralyzing the city. With the help of his mentor, Immanuel Kant and his new scientific process of solving crimes, Hanno must stop the murderer.
This book is melodramatic with a bit of gothic thrown in for good measure. The descriptions of torture, death and prisons were dripping with gothic atmosphere and the descriptions of the city and people were often quite sensational. Our hero was depressingly inept and his mentor was disturbingly bizarre. The murder mystery was disappointingly simple and predictable. There were two things that kept this from being a 1 star book for me and that was the descriptions of the beginnings of forensic science and the city itself. Both interesting aspects of the story but unfortunately not enough to make it good.
This book annoyed me by its verbosity and florid prose. Any book that includes the line, "The sights I saw in Konigsberg will haunt me for the remainder of my days on earth" is, in my opinion, going to be trouble. But, leaving that aside, I also dislike any book where a great deal of the suspense arises from one character refusing to answer another's questions. If you like books by Elmore Leonard, skip this book. If you liked "The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostova, you might (no guarantee) also like this.
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