Stasi Child – David Young
East Berlin, 1975 When Oberleutnant Karin Müller is called to investigate a teenage girl’s body at the foot of the Wall, she imagines she’s seen it all before. But when she arrives she realises this is a death like no other. It seems the girl was trying to escape – but from the West.
Müller is a member of the People’s Police, but in East Germany her power only stretches so far. The Stasi want her to discover the identity of the girl, but assure her the case is otherwise closed – and strongly discourage her from asking questions. The evidence doesn’t add up, and it soon becomes clear the crime scene has been staged. But this is not a regime that tolerates a curious mind, and Müller doesn’t realise that the trail she’s following will lead her dangerously close to home . . . Stasi Child is David Young’s brilliant and page-turning debut novel.
My thanks to Julia at Midas PR for my review copy
I am still catching up on the overdue reviews – books I read during the Christmas holidays but just didn’t get a chance to capture my thoughts at the time.
Tonight I turn my attention to Stasi Child a wonderful and very distinctive thriller from debut author David Young. Stasi Child is set in 1970’s East Berlin, the lead character Karin Müller is an Oberleutnant in the People’s Police. Müller is called in to investigate the death of a girl who was found at the foot of the Wall – not an uncommon occurrence, however, this girl appears to have been trying to escape from the West back into the East!
From the first page I was drawn into the story. Müller is a great character to drive the story, strong yet vulnerable, powerful through her Oberleutnant rank yet powerless when the Stasi becomes involved in ‘guiding’ her investigations. Müller clearly has been a rising star within the People’s Police, however, her every step is watched and it is apparent that there are powerful forces keen to ensure her murder investigation is not too successful. As I read I was reminded of so many Cold War thrillers where spying was rife and everyone had a secret agenda.
Müller’s investigation takes her on an official visit into West Germany and it was fascinating to see how the trip to the other side of the Wall was handled. On returning back to the East there is a shock in store for Müller when attempts to curtail her investigation come too close to home.
As we keep track of the murder investigation there is a side story being developed, young children taken into care of the state and put to work in conditions I found comparable to a Dickensian Workhouse. We follow a teenage girl who is desperate to escape this Hell of a life. She has no-one she can trust but is determined to find a new life for herself. Is this girl destined to end up dead at the foot of the Wall? I had to know, I had to keep reading and the more I read of her plight the more I feared for her life. Top marks to David Young for this, it is rare I get this concerned about a character – if it DOES happen it is usually after the character has appeared in half a dozen books and they are considered part of the recurring cast!
Stasi Child ticked so many boxes for me. There is a murder story, the prospect of political intervention constantly casts a shadow over the characters, the social dynamics of 70’s East Berlin are explored and there are very real and frightening examples of how the State could intervene should there be suspicion of improper behaviour. From chapter to chapter there are so many compelling elements brought into play by David Young that you just have to keep those pages turning. The fact the book is described on Amazon as being part of the Karen Müller Series is such a thrill as it is a pretty clear indication that there will be the chance to return to Berlin and I cannot wait!
Stasi Child is published by Twenty7 and is currently available in digital format. It will be available in paperback from 11 February and (at time of writing) can be pre-ordered.