The Ghosts of Altona

Written by Craig Russell

Review written by Adam Colclough

Adam Colclough lives and works in the West Midlands, he writes regularly for a number of websites, one day he will get round to writing a book for someone else to review.

The  Ghosts of Altona
RRP: £19.99
Released: June 4, 2015

As he struggles to come to terms with the aftermath of a life altering experience Jan Fabel, head of Hamburg's Murder Commission, is haunted by an old case. Fifteen years earlier Monika Krone went missing, now here dismembered body has been found, Fabel reopens the investigation and as he does so men who were involved with Monika start to die in grisly circumstances. A killer with a taste for the gothic is stalking the streets of Hamburg looking for revenge.

Memory and the shadow it casts over the here and now is one of the key themes in this absorbing novel. On one level Craig Russell has written an above average thriller featuring the familiar crime fiction trope of revenge being extracted for an old wrong; dig deeper into The Ghosts of Altona and you find a story about how the history of places and people alike is a palimpsest written over time and again with different understandings of the same events.

He throws into the mix the fascination with dark gothic fantasies and the need to reconcile themselves to the more compromising aspects of their recent history that are inherent to the German character.

In Jan Fabel Russell has created one of the better drawn versions of the thinking man with a badge, writing convincingly about his almost existentialist struggle to relate to his career, colleagues and significant others following the dramatic events of the opening chapter.

He also writes well about a major character with a serious mental illness, avoiding the usual clichés to show a man gripped by an understanding of the world that is as real to him as it is unsettlingly strange to us.

I haven't encountered the work of Craig Russell before and now see that as marking a significant gap in my reading, if his previous books are of the standard of this one filling it will be a pleasure.



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