A Darker State

Written by David Young
Review by Alan Fisk

A sequel to Stasi Child and Stasi Wolf, but one that can stand alone, this novel, set in East Berlin in 1976, once again features Karin Müller of the Kriminalpolizei branch of the East German People’s Police. The son of one of her own colleagues goes missing, and Karin’s investigation leads to a very dark place.

The story is told from more than one viewpoint but is never confusing. Karin also has a troubled personal life and has to deal with hostile superiors and colleagues.

The suspicions and tense atmosphere of the time are well evoked, but having visited East Berlin myself in 1976, I find Young’s People’s Police officers to be surprisingly friendly. I also found the informal interactions among them, and their lack of rank consciousness, to be not entirely plausible. Two minor points: those who illegally fled East Germany were called Republikflüchtlinge, not “Republikflüchtlingen”, and the little green man on pedestrian crossing lights was always called the Ampelmännchen, not the “Ampelmann”.

Nevertheless, this is an entertaining and interesting read, and I recommend it.