In 1976, the Cold War is turning up some chilling evidence for a detective in East Berlin. David Young’s A Darker State follows the mysterious case of a drowned teenage boy with a tattoo that links him to a conspiracy within the corrupted Stasi police.
Promoted to major within the newly created People’s Police Department, Detective Muller knows that she’s on thin ice. Has she been set up to fail or get herself killed, or is she about to solve a case that will reveal a massive web of bureaucratic corruption?
As Muller investigates the murder, she finds undeniable links to another disappeared boy—the son of one of her team members. She races to find the missing boy and uncovers a vile plot to experiment on “social undesirables” and turn them into model citizens. Multiple perspectives are incorporated, including those of the victims, Muller’s associates, and key witnesses. The result is a tight, heart-pounding novel that dives deep into social prejudices and the hypocrisy of socialist Germany.
The stakes are higher than before: Muller has a family, including infant twins, to care for, and her desire to protect and provide for them works against her at every turn. She is an excellent lead: on equal standing with her male colleagues, she is drawn as flawed, but with good intentions and common sense.
Information about Muller’s physical and social landscapes is beautifully woven through the story: at a meeting near Senftenberger See, “the beached dinghies from the boating club joined in, their partly furled sails and lanyards snapping in Aeolian syncopation.” Muller’s Berlin feels complete.
A Darker State is a top notch thriller packed with intricate, frightening plot twists.
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