The Stasi Game

Written by David Young
Review by Marilyn Pemberton

Dresden, Communist East Germany, 1982. Hauptmann Karin Müller of the People’s Police and her small team are tasked with investigating the murder of a man found encased in concrete. However, the shadowy presence of men from the infamous Ministry of State Security, better known as the Stasi, indicate that this is not a straightforward criminal case but potentially has political overtones, which are the province of the Stasi. Müller only has a small team, who struggle to determine whether the information passed to them by agents of the Stasi is genuine or not. Is Müller leading the investigation or is she being led; is she the bait or the prey?

Intertwined with the criminal investigation is the story of Arnold Southwick and Lotti Rolf, who first became friends in 1938. More than forty years later, Arnold reconnects with Lotti. Arnold’s baby brother died during the Hull Blitz in May 1941, and Lotti was disfigured during the relentless bombing of Dresden in February 1945. Arnold’s determination to publish his paper proving that the bombing of Dresden was a war crime, a belief that is still fervently held by some today, leads him into the underworld of the Stasi and MI6, neither of whom want his research to see the light of day.

The Stasi Game is the sixth in the Stasi series, and Young assures readers that it can be read as a standalone, but I would have been more engaged with the characters if I knew more about their backgrounds. I found the book fascinating and the tenuous relationship between the two organs of the state, the People’s Police and the Stasi particularly interesting.