It’s the last day on the tour for The River Runs Red and I’m sharing my thoughts, be sure to have a look at Portable Magic who is also posting today.
Berlin is in the midst of its worst winter in decades.
Against the backdrop of freezing temperatures, blizzards and snowstorms, the city refuses to grind to a halt. Lurking within the shadows is a Stasi victim, out for revenge against the former East German informants known as ‘The Ears’. Their dark secrets are about to be exposed.
A mix of ice and water and a single gunshot, provides the ultimate payback.
With the Millennium approaching, Hanne Drais, the criminal psychologist working within the Berlin Mitte Police team led by the irascible Oskar Kruger and his laid-back sidekick, Stefan Glockner, are seeking the perpetrator of these violent crimes.
Who is the man they’ve nicknamed Snowflake?
Who is turning the river red?
The River Runs Red has been one of the most interesting crime novels I have read in a while. Set in a dual timeline, in Berlin just before the turn of the Millennium and before the fall of the Wall when the Stasi regime was still in power, it really gives you an insight into some of the horrors that occurred and the long term ramifications.
This is definitely a slow drawn out kind of mystery, since the setting is full of suspense and paranoia, a lot of the characters seem guilty and you definitely feel yourself thinking that you’ve figured it all out only to find out that you’ve got it all wrong. There is also a lot of context for the story so I found a lot of the build up was in the stories of the characters and whilst I was focused on who the perpetrator was, I was also wondering what fallout it would have for the families that had already suffered so much.
I think that is the most interesting thing about this book, usually in a crime book you are 100% behind the police hoping to catch the killer. In this case though the victims of the killer are monsters, men who committed the most awful acts against people just because they were in a position of power. So I was almost hoping that they wouldn’t catch the killer because in a sense you could understand why they were doing it.
I enjoyed getting to know Hanne and the team, this is the third book but the first one I’ve read and I felt like I got a good representation of what they were all like and their camaraderie. I do think that this book can be read as a standalone, I didn’t ever feel as if I was missing out on any information from previous books.
Whilst The River Runs Read has all this going for it there were unfortunately a few things that hindered my reading experience. There is a lot of telling in this book, I know that a lot of it is to set the scene properly especially for someone like me who doesn’t have the best knowledge of that time period but I think it could have been handled better. I noticed a lot of it during conversations between characters where the author was trying to give all the information as if it were being spoken about but it actually came off as wholly unrealistic and stiff. It made it quite difficult to get through some scenes.
There was some German interspersed throughout the book, which for the most part I did enjoy but as someone who doesn’t know much German I would have to occasionally stop reading to figure out what a character was saying because I couldn’t figure it out from the context of the sentence. Either that or I would think I had figured it out only to have to return to it when I realized that I’d got the wrong meaning in a later sentence.
I also think that it could have done with another edit as there were a lot of glaringly obvious mistakes. This is a purely personal thing because some people can read through this and it doesn’t bother them, so it therefore wouldn’t upset their reading. However, I find that if I am noticing that many then it starts to upset my view of the book.
There is a lot I liked about this book and it’s a shame that it is let down by a few things, I think if you know you can overlook these things then you will really enjoy it, especially if the setting is of interest to you.
It is the last day on the tour but here are the other stops that you can check back on.
Ally Rose writes –
“I’ve always been interested in writing crime stories and with the Cold War era, there is such a rich tapestry to draw from; especially the notorious and quelling Stasi reign in East Germany. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, gives a contrast between the different worlds and any past crimes are held to account in a unified Germany.
Berlin is one of my favourite cities, and I’ve spent time living and discovering this diverse city and its surrounding areas. Seeing my characters in familiar places, they seem to come to life.
Hope you enjoy my Hanne Drais books.”