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review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-11-14 20:05
Entführung von Petra Ivanov
Entführung. Kriminalroman - Petra Ivanov

Rechtsanwalt Pal wird zum Verteidiger eines mutmaßlichen Entführers bestellt. Das Opfer ist noch nicht gefunden - und die Suche führt ihn in islamistische Kreise, aber auch in die schmerzliche Vergangenheit seiner Freundin Jasmin.


Dies ist der 4. Roman der Meyer und Palushi-Reihe, allerdings der erste, den ich las. Ich hatte nie das Gefühl, irgendwas von der Handlung nicht mitzubekommen aus Unkenntnis der Vorgänger-Romane... aber ich habe jetzt Lust darauf, sie zu lesen!


Insgesamt mehr als ein reiner Krimi. Es ist ein Sittenbild der Gesellschaft, wo islamistische Prediger in orientierungslosen Menschen willige Opfer finden und unbescholtene Menschen das Ziel von islamophoben Tendenzen werden. Am Ende ist es aber die Frage, wie man mit persönlicher Tragödie und Verlust umgeht.


Gut geschrieben, realistisches Setting und zugängliche Hauptpersonen. Die oben angesprochene Lust, mehr von dieser Autorin zu lesen, sagt eigentlich alles.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-10-11 13:19
Unter Wölfen von Alex Beer
Unter Wölfen - Alex Beer

1942, Nürnberg. Um seine Familie vor der Deportation nach Polen zu retten, wendet sich Isaak Rubinstein an seine frühere Geliebte Clara. Die wiederum ist Teil des Widerstands gegen die Nazis, der als Preis für die Rettung der Familie, Isaak als hohen Kriminalisten Adolf Weissmann in der Gestapo einschleust.


Guter Krimi, ein bisserl zu gradlinig für meinen Geschmack, auch ein bisschen zu einfach für Isaak, Weissmann zu ersetzen. Da hätte ich mir mehr Gefühl von Gefahr und Spannung gewünscht - einfach gesagt, die Nazis sind zu blauäugig. Andererseits natürlich: die blinde Hörigkeit ohne eigenes Denken, ohne eigenes Hinterfragen war Teil des Machtapparats.


Ich jedenfalls hätte nichts gegen eine Fortsetzung, denn das Ende bietet sich dafür an.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2019-11-29 16:36
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
The Testaments - Margaret Atwood

The long sought-for sequel, set about 15 years later, to the brilliant "Handmaid's Tale"...


... and I'm not sure we actually needed it.


Gilead has fallen - and how that came to be is told from 3 points of view: Aunt Lydia, Agnes/Hannah who grows up in Gilead and Daisy/Nicole who learns of her origins after her adoptive parents are killed and is sent to Gilead on a mission for mayday.


And while the story that is told is certainly interesting and gripping, there are certain parts that are either repetitive or simply unbelievable (and/or unbelievably naive).


The first question is how much of the TV-series "The Handmaid's Tale" is canon. Atwood is part of the series' consulting team, but there are inconsistencies: Lydia's background for example (in season 3 she's a discontent teacher who's sort of disgusted by her own female nature and sexual urges - here, she's a judge till Gilead takes over and she's faced with the choice to either submit or be killed), how Nic(h)ole's name's written, the way Hannah doesn't remember her mother at all (she wasn't so young as to not remember meeting her in season 2)...


Anyway, the book taken for itself, Lydia keeps meticulous records of everything that goes on in Gilead and is sort of the person who sets everything in motion once Daisy is finally found. It's she who built the whole aunt-sphere in the first place, she who has dirt on everyone, she who arranges marriages, she who admits girls as aunt-supplicants. Of course, the details almost mentionned in passing are as gruesome as ever: commanders killing their wives, pedophilia, arranged child-marriages, murders, perjury... all just to have all the pieces in their places to finally be able to overthrow this corrupt system.


To be honest, once I decided to keep books and TV-series apart, Lydia's story became more relatable. I can distantly see that she doesn't buy completely into the idea of Gilead but sort of positioned herself to be able to act later on when opportunity would present itself. This doesn't make her acts any more palatable or excusable, not at all. But I can see her path as one option out of the pitiful collection she had when Gilead took over.


That Hannah and Nicole would serve as the messengers to the final destruction... seems more convenient name-dropping than true plot-driven necessity. Especially the fact that mayday chooses Nicole who just learned of her true origins, learned about Gilead at school or through the refugee work of her adoptive parents... in short, is absolutely not trained to fit in at all in a misogynistic system, making the whole mission sort of a hail-Mary adventure... and then both sisters meeting... it feels contrived and scratches the edge of credibility or cliché. Why would Lydia's meticulous plans rely on such an untested girl? Moreover, using her and simultaneously implying that June eventually escaped and has worked for Mayday raises the question of why she never approached her daughter. Hannah, on the other hand, could have been substituted by any other Gilead-educated girl. And she remains bland to the end.


Overall... it was a good book, yes... but it leaves more questions than it answers... questions that didn't need to be raised, not even in the hype over the TV-series.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2019-08-15 11:24
Der Fall Kallmann von Hakan Nesser
Der Fall Kallmann: Roman - Håkan Nesser,Paul Berf

Kurz nach dem Tod seiner Frau und Tochter zieht Leon Berger in die Kleinstadt K und tritt seine Anstellung als Schwedischlehrer an der örtlichen Mittelschule an. Beim Räumen der Dinge seines Vorgängers Eugen Kallmann, der Ende des letzten Schuljahres unter mysteriösen Umständen starb, findet er 4 Tagebücher, die die letzten 15 Jahre Kallmanns umreißen... und mehr Fragen aufwerfen als Antworten geben.


Der Roman ist (mit wenigen Ausnahmen) abwechselnd aus 4 Perspektiven erzählt: Leons, der Schülerin Andrea, und Leons Kollegen Igor und Ludmilla. Die 4 Erzählstränge verweben sich zunehmend zu einem Sittenbild an einer schwedischen Kleinstadtschule (samt Migrantenkindern und rechtsextremen Wandlungen) und beleuchten Patchworkfamilien, alte und neue Verbrechen und natürlich auch Kallmanns Vergangenheit. Und je enger die Maschen dieses Bildes werden, desto schwerer ist es, das Buch wegzulegen.


Nesser-typisch wird nicht alles aufgeklärt, was als Rätsel auftaucht (zB die Ähnlichkeit zwischen Andrea und Leons verstorbener Tochter oder auch die Betonung der Augen der Kommissarin, die den Fall Kallmann schließlich übernimmt), trotzdem aber lässt mich die Lektüre befriedigt zurück.


Vor allem in der 2. Hälfte ein Pageturner... braucht aber ein bisserl, um Fahrt aufzunehmen. Insgesamt aber eine definitive Empfehlung!

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2019-04-24 19:37
Munich by Robert Harris
Munich: A novel - Robert Harris

September 1938, the world is on the brink of war. Hitler has his eyes set on Czechoslovakia, bringing the Sudeten-Germans into the Reich. At the eve of the invasion, Britain's prime minister Chamberlain tries everything to prevent open war. But is peace worth any cost?


That's actually the question around which this whole novel revolves. Harris adds 2 young staffers to each side to sort of add the human component to these events, the immediacy of the threat, both of impending war but also of the further unimpeded rise of Hitler. History of course tells us that war broke out nonethess, albeit a year later, after the invasion of yet another country. It also tells us that appeasement only works so far: At some point one has to draw a line, at the latest when the fundamental principles of one's own state and way of life are threatened.


So, what would have happened had the world not silently condoned the invasion of Czechoslovakia but intervened then and there? Were the allied forces truely so militarily unprepared in their (re)armaments after WW1, as is indicated here, that they wouldn't have stood a chance if the war had begun in 1938? And what would that have meant for the holocaust: fewer victims? Or even more (after the defeat of the allied forces)? Would Hitler have had the time to surround himself with sycophants and like-minded people if he had been challenged openly (which is the point that Hartmann makes why it's important that Britain doesn't give in to Hitler's demands)?


Harris already delved into these what-if scenarios with his excellent "Fatherland" set in a world where Nazi Germany had won the war... and it's still a mind-boggling thought experiment, the change of a single event causing major consequences (or, in this case, the failure of affecting said change). The only downside to this novel is the fact that it takes about 200 pages to really get going, but once you're past that, this is a page-turner.

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