It’s my absolute pleasure to take part in the blog tour for Stasi 77. It’s the fourth Karin Müller novel and I’ve read them all. That’s how much I like them! Thank you to Ellen Turner at Zaffre Books for inviting me. Before my review though, the blurb.
A secret State. A dark conspiracy. A terrible crime.
Karin Müller of the German Democratic Republic’s People’s Police is called to a factory in the east of the country. A man has been murdered – bound and trapped as a fire burned nearby, slowly suffocating him. But who is he? Why was he targeted? Could his murderer simply be someone with a grudge against the factory’s nationalisation, as Müller’s Stasi colleagues insist? Why too is her deputy Werner Tilsner behaving so strangely?
As more victims surface, it becomes clear that there is a cold-blooded killer out there taking their revenge. Soon Müller begins to realise that in order to solve these terrible crimes, she will need to delve into the region’s dark past. But are the Stasi really working with her on this case? Or against her?
For those who really run this Republic have secrets they would rather remain uncovered. And they will stop at nothing to keep them that way . . .
A gripping and evocative crime thriller, moving between the devastating closing weeks of the Second World War and the Stasi-controlled 1970s, STASI 77 is David Young’s most compelling and powerful novel yet.
When I add the blurb, I don’t normally add the ‘marketing bit’ but in this instance I have because I heartily agree with it. As I wrote above, I’ve read all of the series and this is definitely compelling and powerful.
Initially I found it to be a slightly slow start but in the long run this was helpful. It gave me a chance to get my head around the plot. Think of it as a train that’s pulling out of a station. It takes a while to get up to full speed but then it doesn’t stop until the final destination.
David Young has done his usual style of another story thread interspersed with Karin’s investigation. I knew the two would eventually link somehow but the reveal is devastating. I don’t want to give any spoilers but when reading, I wrote in my notes, ‘Did this actually happen?’ Sadly, the answer is yes. And that’s the wonderful thing about this series. You get a History lesson without realising it. It’s the authentic touches that make the difference. The description of the newly built towns – a vision in concrete it seems – and Karin’s belief in the Republic, brings alive a world that was hidden from the West.
Karin Müller is such a wonderful character. It’s a bit of a cliché but she really has been on a journey and David Young has turned her life upside down on several occasions. As Karin discovers, the Stasi will use anything to get their way, including her children. Although she’s been in tight scrapes before, this is Karin at her most vulnerable – alone and unable to trust anyone.
Throughout the novel, there are references to Karin’s past cases. As this is the fourth in the series, I would recommend reading the books from the beginning. Having said that, this could be read as a standalone. But the tie-ins from the past have got me thinking – is this the last novel? David Young is coming to my local library in May and I’m definitely going to ask him about this!
So, compelling and powerful? Absolutely. This is my favourite of the four without a shadow of a doubt. It takes a while to ‘bed’ in a character but we’re there with Karin Müller. We know she believes in the Republic but is wary of the Stasi. We know if she’s ordered off a case then she’ll find a way to solve it regardless. We know if Karin is pushed into a corner then she’ll come out fighting. So I really hope she has more cases to solve. Especially as this is set in 1977. Another 12 years before the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Come on David, you know you want to.
You can buy Stasi 77 by clicking here.
I have the great honour of interviewing David along with Daniel Pembrey at West Barnes Library (next to Motspur Park Station in SW London) on Tuesday 14th May at 7.30 pm. If you’d like to come you’d be most welcome. Just let me know or contact the library to reserve your place. £1 entry.
About the Author
East Yorkshire-born David Young began his East German-set crime series on a creative writing MA at London’s City University when Stasi Child – his debut – won the course prize. The novel went on to win the 2016 CWA Historical Dagger, and both it and the 2017 follow-up, Stasi Wolf, were longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the year. His novels have been sold in eleven territories round the world. Before becoming a full-time author, David was a senior journalist with the BBC’s international radio and TV newsrooms for more than 25 years. He writes in his Twickenham garden shed and in a caravan on the Isle of Wight.