Thursday, June 7, 2012
Rec. #244: Death in Berlin
What: M.M. Kaye sets this mystery against the evocative backdrop of Berlin in 1953. Captured exactly between the end of WWII and the construction of the Berlin Wall, the city is all crumbling concrete, battered buildings, and drizzling gray rain.
Of course, this means that the murder on a night train, the refugees on the run, and the story about lost diamonds show up all the more sharply in contrast.
Comparable to: Kaye lived all over the world (including India, Kenya, Zanzibar, Egypt, Cyprus, and Germany), and it shows in her knack for atmosphere. Similarly, Ngaio Marsh's mysteries always have an extra bit of atmospheric pop when she sends Inspector Alleyn to New Zealand, her home country.
Opening lines: "Miranda Brand knelt on the floor of a bedroom in the Families' Hostel at Bad Oeynhausen in the British zone of Germany, searching her suitcase for a cake of soap, and regretting that she had ever accepted her cousin Robert Melville's invitation to spend a month with him and his family in Berlin."
You might not like it if: "Atmosphere?" you say. "Bah!" (Congratulations on your use of "Bah" --- let's bring it back into circulation.)
How to get it: Buy it or borrow it. You might also find it under its original title, Death Walked in Berlin.
Connections to previous Wreckage: M.M. Kaye found death all over the place. Her Death in Zanzibar was Rec. #183. And I just adore Nagio Marsh. You can find all the mentions of her on this blog by looking under "M" in my Index of Names and Titles.