Back in 2007, just as author Volker Kutscher finished „Der nasse Fisch“, the first entry in his series of novels about detective Gereon Rath, he broke new ground on the literary scene. Historical crime novels set in Nazi-Germany had been written before, but a series dealing with the “golden” 1920´s had never been published until then.
An especially exciting phase of German history, the 1920´s were marked by radical changes in society, a fact Kutscher combines in his novels with classic noir elements, reminiscent of hard-boiled American writers such as Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler back in the day. This is an approach mirrored in the choice of making the protagonist a detective who is being transferred from Cologne to Berlin. Following this ambitious, yet politically indifferent anti-hero, the reader can explore the old “Chicago at the river Spree” and vicariously experience how a young, promising democracy with great progressive tendencies could descend into a rule of fascism.
Gereon Rath´s cases are meticulously researched history lessons during which the author confronts fictional as well as non-fictional characters with historic events while never losing sight of the detective story. Kutscher uses a gripping, scenic narrating style which presents the intoxicating world of a doomed Weimar Republic brought back to live in stunning detail and perfectly serves as a basis for a TV adaptation. Kutscher has stated that the ground-braking HBO series “The Sopranos” (1999-2007) served as an inspiration for him – and also the fact he had seen two movies in quick succession in 2002: Sam Mendes´ hard-boiled gangster film “Road to Perdition” set in 1931 and Fritz Lang´s 1931 masterpiece “M”, made in Berlin. The idea of blending both of those worlds in a crime novel was born.
Volker Kutscher was born 1962 in Lindar, North Rhine-Westphalia. After studying German literature, philosophy, and history, he worked as an editor for a daily newspaper. In 1996, he published his first crime novel „Bullenmord“, set in his native region Bergisches Land. His award-winning Gereon Rath series, published by Kiepenbauer & Witsch, consists at this point of “Der nasse Fisch” (2007), “Der stumme Tod” (2009), “Goldstein” (2010), “Die Akte Vaterland” (2012), and “Märzgefallene” (2014), all using Berlin during 1929-1931 as a scenic backdrop. Kutscher’s 6th novel, “Lunapark”, will be released in November 2016 and will be set in summer 1934. At least three more entries in the series will follow.