I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Stasi Winter by David Young. Thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to take part. This is the fifth book in the Karin Müller series and she’s one of my favourite female police detectives. Before I give you my review, here’s the blurb.
In 1978 East Germany, nothing is at it seems. The state’s power is absolute, history is re-written, and the ‘truth’ is whatever the Stasi say it is.
So when a woman’s murder is officially labelled ‘accidental death’, Major Karin Müller of the People’s Police is faced with a dilemma. To solve the crime, she must disregard the official version of events. But defying the Stasi means putting her own life – and the lives of her young family – in danger.
As the worst winter in living memory holds Germany in its freeze, Müller must untangle a web of state secrets and make a choice: between truth and lies, justice and injustice, and, ultimately, life and death.
Stasi 77 (book 4) finished with Karin handing in her resignation. And for several months she enjoys being with her family but it’s time for her to find a new job. Perhaps teaching police cadets would be a good use of her skills. However, she discovers that her resignation was not accepted and she’s still a Major in the People’s Police. Moreover, she’s wanted back to investigate a suspicious death in the far north of the country on the coast. It means revisiting a place both she and Werner Tilsner (her deputy) have been to before. Although this could be read as a standalone, I would recommend you read Stasi Child first as there are some characters from that book making a return appearance.
This is epic storytelling. Although the suspicious death is the reason for Müller’s involvement, she’d drawn into something much bigger – an audacious escape from East Germany. I read this over the Christmas holidays. Thankfully our winter so far is not as cold as the one East Germany faced in 1978/9. David Young admits he’s taken a bit of poetic licence and borrowed some elements from the incredibly severe winter of 1962/63 when the Ostsee or Baltic Sea really did freeze hard enough for people to walk on and escape to the West. Just goes to show how desperate people were to leave the Communist regime. And this desperation comes across loud and clear in Stasi Winter.
The escape was my favourite section of the book. It was chilling in more ways than one and incredibly tense. It was easy to imagine even though it was a whiteout due to the weather conditions and the escapees camouflaged in white bedsheets. I could appreciate the muffled stillness; the waves rearing up, not to crash onto the beach, but frozen in huge chunks; the panic of getting lost. David Young has created an amazing atmosphere and I still get shivers just thinking about it.
Without giving anything away, the ending leaves us nicely set up for more Karin Müller tales. There’s still another decade of East German Communism to go. Please keep writing, David!
You can buy Stasi Winter and the rest in the series here.
East Yorkshire-born David Young began his East German-set crime series on a creative writing MA at London’s City University. His debut – Stasi Child – won the course prize. The novel went 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. 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. Stasi Winter is the fifth novel in the Karin Müller series.