Willi Kraus, the celebrated WWI and detective, returns in this prequel story about how he became the most famous Jewish Detective in Germany in the days of the Weimar Republic
In Paul Grossman's Children of Wrath Willi Kraus tackles the case of the Kinderfresser, the vicious Child-Eater of Berlin. Turning the clock back two years from The Sleepwalkers, the story starts out in the fall of 1929, the last days of prosperity. Berlin is deep in the throes of a giddy rush to forget its troubled past. But the same day the stock market crashes in New York, the dark underside of the German capital flushes to the surface in the form of a burlap sack spewed by floodwaters from the city sewer system. When Willi is called to investigate and discovers the sack is full of children's bones with teeth marks on them--and a bible with a single phrase circled in red: children of wrath--he fears he's run into "something darker than he's ever known."
Set in 1929, Grossman s brilliant second historical featuring Berlin policeman Willi Kraus (after 2010 s The Sleepwalkers, which was set in 1932) finds Kraus already feeling the isolation of being a Jew in an overwhelmingly Aryan environment. While Kraus is curious to look into the discovery of a burlap sack containing boiled human bones bound together by thread made from muscles, his superior instead puts him in charge of searching for the source of tainted sausages that have already poisoned hundreds. Kraus, an attractively complex lead, can t keep away from the other case, even at the cost of his professional reputation and tranquil relations with his wife. The political turmoil caused by the rise of the Nazi Party complicates both cases. Grossman has improved on his characterizations, as shown by the thoughtful way he presents even minor figures. Fans of cerebral murder mysteries will look forward to the next installment.