The Last Man in Berlin

Written by Gaylord Dold
Review by Mark F. Johnson

Harry Wulff is a simple, hard-working detective in early 1930s Berlin. More than anything, Harry wants to do his job and stay out of the political turmoil that rages throughout the city. But the seemingly random murder of a transvestite slowly draws Harry into the quicksand of Nazi hysteria. He finds that fewer and fewer of his colleagues can be trusted. Then his immediate superior is murdered in the same fashion, and suddenly Harry finds himself up to his neck in political intrigue. Complicating matters is the fact that Harry is in love with a beautiful (of course) Jewish woman and hence scorned by many of his fellow detectives.

Dold does an admirable job of encapsulating Germany’s confusing and headlong tumble toward Nazi lunacy into the confines of a murder investigation. Oddly, though, the zealous SA Brown Shirts are mostly portrayed as imbecilic sexual deviants, while Wulff and his few trusted colleagues and friends are portrayed as intelligent and, for the most part, morally upstanding individuals. A little too black hat/white hat, perhaps. Still, the story is darkly intriguing and especially apropos of today, reminding us of the danger of overly fervent nationalism.