The River Runs Red by Ally Rose Fahrenheit Press 24th July 2018
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 use of performance enhancing drugs in sport is a topic that remains in the spotlight, yet back in the 1980’s it use was rife but kept underwraps and was largely undetected. It was a time when the Berlin Wall remained firmly intact, anyone attempting to escape East Germany most likely shot, its citizens kept under tight control. For some there were privileges, particularly if you excelled in your chosen sport. For those chosen few you had the luxury of decent food, accommodation and the special blue vitamin that ensured your success at the Olympics.
Rudy was one of the chosen few, a top class rower expected to win gold at the Seoul Olympics, yet when his Father defects and his brother and family are caught in their attempt his world is turned upside down.
Rose does not spare any details, perfectly describing the torturous questioning not only faced by Rudy but by many who assisted or attempted to escape. The horrors of being placed in freezing cold water for hours is not one that makes for comfortable reading and my imagination went into nightmarish overdrive.
Yet, Rudy is a man who was determined to survive, to escape, with a mind that was both astute and intelligent. I am not sure if I actually liked him, I found him cold and calculating. Yes, he loved his family but when the dead bodies from his past began to turn up you began to wonder if he really was the killer. I swayed this way and that throughout, at times convinced I knew who it was and at other times completely unsure.
The investigating officers, particularly criminal psychologist Hanna almost seemed as much in the dark as myself. I loved Hanna’s resolve and ingenuity and her own incredulity as she uncovered the truth, and the harshness of the East German regime.
I liked that she wasn’t the usual stereotypical police employee so often seen in the genre, comfortable with her sexuality and relationships, never one to judge, but open minded in her approach to both her personal and professional life.
Rose’s eye for detail was exemplary, her research into East Germany and the role of the Stasi and informants brilliantly done. The historical detail with regard to Berlin both before and after the Wall was cleverly intertwined. It never overpowered the story, but perfectly complimented it, giving the novel a real sense of time and place.
The River Runs Red, was not full of flashing sirens, and hectic scenes, the pace wasn’t fast but measured, full of detail, and I liked that Rose made you think, made you read between the lines to full understand the various strands. The tension definitely increased in the latter parts, and the final scenes were cinematically detailed. Rose was clever, she left me questioning, wondering if what had unfolded was actually the truth and those questions stayed with me long after I had turned the final page.
The River Runs Red is a well researched, thought provoking novel and one that I would highly recommend.
I would like to thank Fahrenheit Press for the copy of The River Runs Red to read and review and to Emma Welton of Damp Pebbles Blog Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
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.”
Follow Ally Rose on social media
You can purchase The River Runs Red at the following
Fahrenheit Press online book store: http://www.fahrenheit-press.com/books_the_river_runs_red.html