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Rosa: A Berlin Trilogy par [Rabb, Jonathan]
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Rosa: A Berlin Trilogy Format Kindle

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Berlin in December, to those who know her, is like no other place. The first snows take on a permanence, and the wide avenues from Charlottenburg to the Rondell breathe with a crispness of Prussian winter. It is a time when little boys drag their mothers away from the well-dressed windows at KaDeWe or Wertheim's or the elegant teas at the Hotel Adlon and out to the Tiergarten and the wondrous row of marble emperors along the Siegesallee. Just as dusk settles, as the last flurries of the day swirl through the leafless trees, you can steal a glimpse of any number of little eyes peering up, hoping, just this once, to catch a stony wink from an Albrecht the Bear, or a Friedrich of Nuremberg with his large ears and dour expression. Just a wink through the snow to tell him that Christmas will be kind to him this year. "There, Mama, did you see! Do you see how he winked at me!" And the pride that next morning, bundled up beyond measure, racing out from his fine house on Belziger or Wartburg Strasse to tell his friends of his triumph. "Yes, me, too! Me, too!" Berlin in December.

This, however, was January, when the snow had turned to endless drizzle, so raw that it seemed to penetrate even the heaviest of layers. And whatever civility they might still be clinging to elsewhere, here on the east side of town, all the way up to the flophouses in Prenzlauer Berg, people had little time or patience for such gestures. Christmas had brought nothing, except perhaps the truth about how the war had been lost long before the summer, how the generals had been flimflamming them all the way up to the November capitulation. Oh, and of course, the revolution. Christmas had brought that, a thoroughly German revolution, with documents in triplicate, cries from the balconies, demonstrations and parades, tea still at four o'clock, dinner at seven, and perhaps a little dancing afterward up at the White Mouse or Maxim's. Shots had been fired, naturally, a few hundred were dead, but the socialists—not the real socialists, mind you—were straightening everything up.

Still, it was the weather that had most people on edge. The rain just wasn't giving in, and it was why Nikolai Hoffner, rather than waiting out on the tundral expanse of the Rosenthaler Platz, had snuck off to Rucker's bar for something warm to drink. Years of experience had told him that nothing of any significance was going to happen today: later on, he would come to regret that arrogance. So, with a knowing smile, he had left the ever-eager Hans Fichte up on the square; at the first sign of trouble, Fichte knew where to find him.

Hoffner sat with a brandy ("I'd walk a mile for Mampe's brandy, it makes you feel so hale and dandy!"), the early edition of the BZ am Mittag in front of him. He had not sat like this in weeks, a quiet read to clear the mind. And not because of the nonsense that had been going on out at the stables, or up at the Reichstag: all the pretty uniformed men had managed to disrupt traffic too many times, now, to recount. No, Hoffner had been up to his ears in real violence, genuine terror, hardly the kind plotted in Red pamphlets or designed in back rooms by overfed burghers calling themselves socialists. They played at revolution; he knew another kind. But for today—orders from on high—he was told to leave that alone and join the rest of his breed in the streets to make sure "nothing untoward" would come to pass.

Hoffner finished off the last of his drink and nodded to the barman to bring him another. As he was one of only three people in the place—a man at a corner table, his head tilted back against the wall, his mouth gaped open in sleep; a woman with a beer and bread, her business at one of the nearby hotels temporarily interrupted—the service was unusually prompt. The barman approached with the bottle.

"This, I'm sad to say, will have to be the last."

Hoffner looked up from his paper. "I'm sad to hear." He had a steady, reassuring voice.

"It's this damned rationing," said the man. "This and another bottle's all I've got for the day. My apologies."

Hoffner half smiled. "What do you care if the money's coming from me or from someone else?"

"Simple economics, mein Herr. No brandy, fewer people in here to buy my sausages before they rot." The man opened the bottle. "It's called the distribution of capital, or something like that. You understand."

Hoffner's smile grew. "Completely."

"And"—the man nodded as he poured—"the money's not coming from you. It never does. So why don't you be nice to me today and let someone else pay for the brandy?"

Hoffner reached into his coat pocket and produced a ten-pfennig coin. He placed it on the table.

The man smiled again as he shook his head. "No, no. I like that you don't pay. You like that you don't pay. We may be governed by socialists now, but it's better that you hold on to your money."

The man popped the cork back into the bottle and headed for the bar. "Time to wake up, Herr Professor Doktor," he said as he moved past the man in the corner. The man at once opened his eyes, looked around in a daze, and then, in one fluid movement, pawed out his beard, picked up his umbrella, and stood. Upright, he seemed far more impressive, though from the look of his clothes, one had to wonder how much sleep he had gotten in the last few days. He peered over at Hoffner. "Is it safe out there, mein Herr?"

Hoffner continued to read his paper. "Safe as can be, Herr Professor Doktor."

"Excellent." The man turned to the barman. "My thanks, Herr Ober." And, placing his hat on his head, he started for the door, stopping momentarily to bow to the lady. "Madame." He then glanced quickly through the windows, and was gone.

Hoffner scanned through several stories, all of which were doing their best to assuage a devoted readership. The Reds were dead: good old Liebknecht had gotten his in the park, little Rosa in the clutches of a murderous mob, though her body was still missing; Chancellor Ebert could be trusted with the government; business was on the rise, so forth and so on. And yet, even within the lines meant to pacify, the BZ had that remarkable capacity to stir up a kind of subdued panic:

Reichs Chancellor Ebert, with the full cooperation of a diligent military, has declared the streets once again safe for the men and women of Berlin. Hurrah! With the National Assembly election only days away, we must thank this provisional government for the speed with which it has put down the Bolshevik-inspired insurgency, and hope that it is equally tireless in its efforts to hunt down the deluded lone sharpshooters who still infest our city. Those living in the area between Linienstrasse and the Hackescher-Markt are advised to remain indoors for the next twenty-four hours.

The woman at the table laughed lazily to herself. Still pretty at twenty-two, twenty-three, she jawed through her bread. She was wearing the unspoken uniform of those girls who sell roses and matches at the restaurants along Friedrichstrasse--the silk-thin dress, ruffles along the low collar and cuffs, the dark cloche hat with its front trim tucked up, just so--except hers was well past its prime, the sure indication that she, too, had progressed. All pretense long gone, she spoke her mind. "It's so easy to spot one of you," she said, not looking up. "Long brown coat, brown shoes, brown hat, brown, brown, brown."

Hoffner flipped to the next page. "One might say the same of you, Fraulein."

She bit into a wedge of bread. "But you won't. As a gentleman."

"No, of course not. As a gentleman."

The woman started to laugh again as she picked at the remaining slab of bread, her fingers like little bird beaks pecking at the crust. "Another glass of brandy for my friend, Herr Ober," she said, her eyes fixed on the bread. "We must make sure to keep our men of the Kripo warm and happy. Who will protect us from the Russian hordes?" Another laugh.

Hoffner folded his paper and placed it on the table. "Alas, Fraulein, but the Russians are out of the Kriminalpolizei's jurisdiction. We deal only with the Berlin hordes."

The man at the bar smiled quietly and retrieved the bottle, but Hoffner shook his head and pushed back his chair, a bit farther than he had anticipated needing. His wife was pleased that he was having no trouble keeping the weight on, a testament to her culinary skills amid all the shortages. Not that he was fat, but Hoffner had a certain image of himself that he was, as yet, unwilling to part with: good height, deep eyes, dark hair (he had gotten the latter two from his Russian mother, likewise the first name), reasonably fit, and with a thin scar just beneath the chin, a worthy reminder of championship days as a Gymnasium fencer. At forty-five, however, several centimeters had vanished to the slight roll in his shoulders; the depth of his eyes had relocated south to a pair of ever-widening bags; and while the hair was still full, dark most certainly would have been a stretch. As to the rest, more like distant friends than close companions.

"Thank you, Fraulein," said Hoffner. "But I'm guessing you've got better things to do with your hard-earned money."

The front door opened and a pocket of chilled air quickly made the rounds. There, slick from the rain and out of breath, stood Hans Fichte, his eyes on Hoffner.

"Shut that door," barked the barman as he placed the bottle back on its shelf.

Fichte did as he was told, and moved quickly to Hoffner's table. "You're needed back in the square, Herr Kriminal-Kommi...

From Publishers Weekly

Based on the obscure four-month-long disappearance of the corpse of Rosa Luxemburg, the "Devil Jewess" Socialist Democrat revolutionary, after her summary execution on January 15, 1919, this brooding, studiously researched fiction noir from Rabb (The Overseer; The Book of Q) imagines the maelstrom of conspiracy and political unrest in post-WWI Germany. For six dreary weeks, starting in early December, veteran Det. Insp. Nikolai Hoffner--along with Hans Fichte, an ambitious 23-year-old detective trainee--has been baffled by the corpses of middle-aged women appearing around Berlin with signature designs carved into their backs. In mid-January, Hoffner is called to see a fifth corpse in an abandoned subway station, and at the morgue, he is shown a sixth body--that of the infamous Rosa Luxemburg. Her corpse has similar markings, but there are subtle differences. These suspicious variations--coupled with the arrogant intervention of the powerful Polpo (political police), who spirit the corpse away to a morgue upstairs--launch Hoffner on a perilous, labyrinthine inquiry. Sometimes the novel's prose is rather tangled and Rabb struggles to get his story told, but subtexts of love, betrayal and a detective at war with his feelings illuminate this gothic tapestry of anti-Semitism and ethnic elitism with its foreshadowing of the Nazi era.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 912 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 416 pages
  • Editeur : Halban (29 septembre 2011)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B006WV3DYQ
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  • Composition améliorée: Non activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 3.0 étoiles sur 5 2 commentaires client
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Well written story set in a fascinating period. The book is long but Worth reading and I would recommend it.
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il y a une superbe intention dans une époque trouble et mal connue de l'Allemagne. mais l'intrigue tire en longueur, on n'arrive pas à accrocher. Décevant
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.6 étoiles sur 5 42 commentaires
47 internautes sur 48 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Murder, history, mystery written in compelling style 4 mars 2005
Par Laurel Johnson - Publié sur
Format: Relié
Rosa was my first experience with Jonathan Rabb's work, although it is his third book. His gift for detail is unerring, which makes this complex mystery all the more appealing. Simply stated, I could not easily lay this book aside until the last page.

The place is post World War One Berlin. Rabb brings this metropolis to life with deft touches, shedding light in each dark corner, every nuance that gave Berlin its flavor at the time. Rabb doesn't simply tell the wonderful and gritty details. He takes his readers there so we can live it, experience the snow and mist, explore the scents and sounds. His skill with descriptive prose adds resonating depths his readers might not have experienced otherwise.

Detective Inspector of the Kriminal Polizei -- the Kripo -- Nikolei Hoffner, is in pursuit of a serial killer whose madness borders on genius. Hoffner and his assistant, Hans Fichte, methodically follow every small clue, groping in the dark, until they find Rosa's body. Rosa Luxemburg is a socialist revolutionary and enemy of the Reichstadt. Hoffner knows immediately that, as a victim, she is out of place. That initial thought draws Hoffner and Fichte into a provocative conspiracy involving the Political Police, the black market, secret Aryan societies, and scientific developments overseen by a young Albert Einstein.

Nikolei Hoffner is a magnificent character, a troubled and brilliant man who seeks the truth with dogged determination. We walk in Hoffner's shoes as he dissects cryptic clues and searches Berlin's underbelly for his killer. The truths he uncovers and losses he experiences are horrible, beyond even his comprehension.

Rabb totally immerses readers in place and time and his character development is brilliant. We experience what Hoffner sees and feels, even his despair and impotence. And we witness the horrifying stirrings of anti Semitism, glimpse the spectre that will be Nazi Germany.

Jonathan Rabb blends history with fiction in Rosa with exciting results. Rosa Luxemburg was real, as were many characters from that time. Her murder and disappearance of her body were never solved in real life. This book is one possible explanation. For lovers of mystery, suspense, and history, Rosa is a must have, must read.
28 internautes sur 30 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Post WWI Berlin, Rosa, Revolution & A Thrilling Mystery!! 15 mai 2005
Par Jana L.Perskie - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Berlin in January 1919 was bitterly cold and damp. The Great War was over and Germany was in the throes of defeat, its citizens impoverished, with ersatz everything for sale and no money to purchase anything. The gallant young men who had marched off to fight for God, Kaiser and Fatherland a mere five years before, were dead, maimed and/or disillusioned, bitter and unemployed. A generation of young women would never marry, their potential spouses buried beneath the winter snow. When the Kaiser abdicated, Fredrich Ebert, the leader of the Social Democratic Party, established the Weimar Government in time to sign the humiliating Treaty of Versailles, which forced Germany to pay billions in gold marks - reparation money it did not have. Inflation was rampant.

Tremendous fear of communism permeated the country. Many thought that Russia's Bolshevik Revolution would spread across the border, so most Germans were content to turn a blind eye to the loss of certain liberties, constitutional rights, and accepted the "strong-arm tactics" which prevailed against anyone who threatened the country's stability. The "Spartacus League," (Spartakusbund), German communists named after the slave who lead a rebellion against the Romans, was founded by Rosa Luxemburg, during WWI to counter the German Social Democrats' support of the war. Luxemburg, a Marxist politician, socialist philosopher, and revolutionary, along with her colleague, Karl Liebknicht, challenged Reichschancellor Ebert's government, as did the far right-wing Free Corps (Freikorps). Miss Luxemburg's failure to organize a coherent political opposition to the Social Democratic leadership proved fatal both to the outcome of the German revolution and to her own life. The state forces reasserted control and crushed the rebellion, brutally murdering Rosa, Karl Liebnecht and many other Party members, sympathizers and workers.

Although Rosa, called the "Devil Jewess" by her enemies, was assassinated on January 15th, 1919, her body was not discovered until five months later. The mystery of her corpse's location during that winter and early spring has never been solved. Jonathan Rabb proposes a credible solution in his penetrating historical mystery, "Rosa." The author's extensive research on life in post-WWI Germany enriches this fascinating novel tremendously.

Detective Inspector Nikolai Hoffner, and his young assistant Hans Fichte, find themselves at the center of Berlin's revolutionary violence. Their offices at Kriminalpolizei, (Kripo), Headquarters are right on Alexanderplatz, at the center of the chaotic uprising. The social upheaval and subsequent battles provide but a momentary distraction for the two detectives, however. A vicious serial murderer is on the loose in Berlin, and their attention is intensely focused on the case. Four middle-aged women have turned up dead, all mutilated with identical, intricate markings etched into their backs. Hoffner and Fichte have spent almost six weeks trying to solve the bizarre crime. When the political police (Polpo) intervene, veteran cop Hoffner is disturbed and angry. Why would they be interested in a serial murderer? A fifth body is discovered - the MO is the same. Later that day, at the morgue, honchos from Polpo reveal yet another lifeless body, number six - this one is Rosa Luxemburg. She has the same marks carved into her back as the others. If Miss Luxemburg had been assassinated by the authorities, as rumored, or been killed by an angry mob, also rumored, then why and how did she receive the specific signature of the serial killer? No one, other than the police, knew of the killer's existence, nor about any of the clues at the crime scenes. The revolution had been front page news for weeks. And the Kripo was certainly not looking to enlighten the public about a mass murderer and their failure to catch him.

The Polpo take possession of Luxemburg's body and refuse to release it. As Hoffner conducts a labyrinthine criminal investigation, suspense heightens as startling discoveries are made - in Berlin, Munich and Belgium. In the process a wide cast of compelling secondary characters are introduced, including a Jewish expert in lace making, Oliver Twist-like errand boys who work for the highest bidder, a charismatic pilot, Leo Jogisches, a former lover and colleague of Rosa's, Albert Einstein, Dietrich Eckart (Hitler's mentor), and artist Kathe Kollwitz. The Polpo goons are always a step behind or just ahead of Hoffner. In spite of continual warnings to ignore their machinations, the Detective Inspector persists on his own course. Subplots of love, betrayal, anti-Semitism, secret societies and the political foreshadowing of Nazism make for a riveting read.

Nikolai Hofner is a superb multi-faceted character. He is a consummate professional, a brilliant detective, with a tremendous sense of irony, driven to discover everyone involved in this most complex of cases. He will not be deterred. A man with a past, a flawed yet courageous individual, Nikolai develops feelings of compassion and admiration for Rosa Luxemburg, as he begins to know her through her papers and his investigation. He also demonstrates fairness and sympathy for his partner's weaknesses. However, he is unable to show his wife and sons the love he feels for them.

This is a fantastic novel noir set in an extraordinary place and time in history. The narrative is fast paced and well written, filled with period detail. The mystery at the book's core is a real one and the author's solution is creative, believable and thrilling in its implications. I highly recommend "Rosa."

17 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Fantastic Read 4 juillet 2005
Par M. Richter - Publié sur
Format: Relié
One of the best novels I've read in a long time. Great story, great characters, great writing. I felt as if I were literally transformed back to 1919 Berlin. The entire plot was so compelling, fast-paced, original. The author obviously did his homework -- I believed all of his possible historical scenarios could have actually taken place as opposed to that Da Vinci garbage which was just ridiculous and kept taking me out of the story. You feel Rabb's expertise on every page. I hope he does a sequel -- I'd love to watch Hoffner crack another fascinating mystery.
10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Restoring historical fiction's good name. 5 juillet 2005
Par A Reader from Somerville - Publié sur
Format: Relié
Jonathan Rabb's latest novel arrives just in time to rescue us from the historical-fiction-lite style of Dan Brown and his imitators. Rosa is everything a historical novel should be, and I think it deserves to be mentioned among the very best works in the genre. Rabb makes 1919 Berlin come alive, and with a light touch. The details are never forced, and the history is never pedantic--which is no small feat when one considers that Rosa takes place against an incredibly complex historico-political landscape.

The best thing about the novel, though, are its characters. Rabb writes beautifully, and his characters have real depth and humanity. He never settles for a stereotype or cardboard cut out. (The main protagonist, Nikolai Hoffner, for example, is reminiscent of Graham Greene's tortured, flawed, well-meaning anti-heroes.) As a result, Rosa is so much more than the recent crop of historically-inflected campfire-stories like the Da Vinci Code. It is just compelling, well-written fiction.

Without question, fans of historical fiction should check out Rosa. But I would also recommend it to those looking for good, new literary fiction who may not otherwise venture into historical fiction. The review of Rosa in Harper's Monthly placed the book in the company of the works of Malraux, Raymond Chandler and Robert Musil. I think that readers of Rosa will agree that such comparisons are apt.
6 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Grim slog through post-WWI Berlin 25 juin 2011
Par Bryan - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
I was a little more than halfway through Rosa when I realized I was reading on more out of duty than enjoyment. The author has done prodigious research and draws an extremely realistic portrait of Berlin just after Germany's defeat. The book makes for very grim reading- Berlin is cold, wet, and full of miserable people just getting by. Hoffner, the main character, is a brilliant detective but a deeply flawed person. His partner is a drunken oaf, and his son is well on his way to becoming a Brownshirt. Treacherous colleagues abound. There's not an admirable character in the book except perhaps one minor one, a former Russian soldier. By the time Hoffner zeroes in on the reason for the murders, I found I just wanted to put the book away and get some fresh air.
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