A Secret State
A Dark Conspiracy
A Terrible Crime
[ About the Book ]
Karin Müller of the German Democratic Republic’s People’s Police is called to a factory in the east of the country. A man has been murdered – bound and trapped as a fire burned nearby, slowly suffocating him. But who is he? Why was he targeted? Could his murderer simply be someone with a grudge against the factory’s nationalisation, as Müller’s Stasi colleagues insist? Why too is her deputy Werner Tilsner behaving so strangely?
As more victims surface, it becomes clear that there is a cold-blooded killer out there taking their revenge. Soon Müller begins to realise that in order to solve these terrible crimes, she will need to delve into the region’s dark past. But are the Stasi really working with her on this case? Or against her?
For those who really run this Republic have secrets they would rather remain uncovered. And they will stop at nothing to keep them that way . . .
[ My Review ]
Stasi 77 is the forth book in a crime fiction series featuring East German police officer Karin Müller. Written by David Young and just published with Zaffre, it is described as ‘a gripping and evocative crime thriller where David Young effortlessly weaves true historical narrative into a contemporary mystery plot that will leave you breathless.’ This is the first book I have read in the series and I will say that I think it would be more beneficial to read these books in order, as the life and career of Karin Müller is documented over the years as her personal and work circumstances have changed. The series begins in 1975 with book 1, Stasi Child and in Stasi 77, book 4, we are again taken behind the Berlin Wall to April 1977.
Karin Müller, a member of the GDR People’s Police, receives a call to attend a murder scene, where the body of a man is discovered in a state factory mill. Initially it is thought that this is an individual case but the view on this soon changes as the body count begins to mount. Karin is no fool and her initial feeling is that there is something much bigger at play here, something that is linked to certain members of the Stasi aka The Internal Security Force of the GDR. The Stasi were a group established to handle domestic surveillance and foreign espionage and were a feared group among the general population of the GDR. Karin has experience dealing with the Stasi over the years and the relationship between both would not be of the most positive nature. Karin knows how they work and she knows what it is that they do. She also is fully aware of the lengths they will go to to achieve their objectives and to keep their secrets just that….a secret.
David Young writes fictional novels that are ‘part police-procedural, part thriller and have a dash of historical mystery thrown in. There’s a smidgen of Cold War politics in the mix too….’ (writing.ie) He introduces the reader to a time in our history that many of us know nothing about. I remember the Berlin Wall coming down but, in truth, I know very little of the lives lived by those who were sectioned off to the east behind the ‘Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart: the GDR’s favourite term for the Berlin Wall’ (David Young)
In Stasi 77, David Young was determined to write about one of the Second World War’s least publicised war crimes and to keep the memories of those who were brutally tortured and massacred alive. He does this through the fictional narrative of one man, a man who was interred in the camps and suffered horrendously at the hands of the Nazi regime. The powerful descriptions of this man’s journey and those who were by his side, will stay with me forever. The atrocities carried out, the inhumanity of man are all superbly captured by the compelling words of David Young.
David Young expertly ties together two periods in history with a shocking tale at it’s core. Karin Müller is one tough and fearless protagonist who is not afraid to challenge the establishment to uncover the terrible secrets of the past. At times I did question some of the freedom that Karin Müller appeared to have but, as I really know absolutely nothing about the GDR, I was totally willing to accept it and move on.
Stasi 77 is a very effective novel, with the author’s research into this period quite evident. As has been the case with a lot of books I have read recently, Stasi 77 encouraged me to do my own research into the heinous actions of 1945 that are woven into the mystery that is central to this book. All the characters are portrayed with great attention to detail giving great credibility to the actions taken by many. Stasi 77 is an exciting story, with a fascinating and heart-breaking story at it’s core. It is a novel that will appeal to many, across different genre, as it encompasses so many different themes.
I’ll leave with the words of David Young:
‘I thought long and hard about the ethics of bolting a fictional story onto a horrific real-life event. In the end I concluded that anything that serves to raise the profile of this massacre must be good thing….’
[ Bio ]
David Young was born in East Yorkshire began his East German-set crime series on a creative writing MA at London’s City University when Stasi Child – his debut – won the course prize. Stasi Child went on to win the 2016 CWA Historical Dagger, and both it and the 2017 follow-up, Stasi Wolf, were longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the year. His novels have been sold in eleven territories round the world.
Before becoming a full-time novelist, David was a senior journalist with the BBC’s international radio and TV newsrooms for more than 25 years. David likes to regularly change his writing spots and can be found in his Twickenham garden shed, a caravan on the Isle of Wight and most recently a cottage in Syros, Greece.
Twitter ~ @djy_writer