Posts Tagged ‘David Young’

  • Title: Stasi Winter
  • Author: David Young
  • Publisher: Zaffre
  • Publication Date: 9th January 2020

Copy received via publisher and Tracy Fenton for review purposes.


In East Germany, solving a murder can get you killed …

A gripping and intelligent thriller set in East Germany, during the worst winter in one-hundred years. Perfect for fans of Tom Rob Smith, Phillip Kerr and Joseph Kanon.

In 1978 East Germany, nothing is as it seems. The state’s power is absolute, history is re-written and the ‘truth’ is whatever the Stasi say it is.

So when a woman’s murder is officially labelled ‘accidental death’, Major Karin Müller of the People’s Police is faced with a dilemma. To solve the crime, she must disregard the official version of events. But defying the Stasi means putting her own life – and the lives of her young family – in danger.

As the worst winter in living memory holds Germany in its freeze, Müller must untangle a web of state secrets and make a choice: between truth and lies, justice and injustice, and, ultimately, life and death.

Stunningly authentic and brimming with moral ambiguity, Stasi Winter is the thrilling new novel from the award-winning author of Stasi Child.

My Thoughts:

I have been a huge fan of David Young’s Karin Müller series for some time now, and I was ecstatic when I heard about the latest book, Stasi Winter. I’ve loved getting to know this character and following the turbulent path that her life has taken to this point, seeing the obstacles that are thrown at her and how she tackles them make for thrilling reading.

Müller’s battles with the Stasi have been a regular occurrence throughout the series and the one thing that you always take away from the books is the feeling of the underdog winning small battles here and there in the face of adversity. She may not win the war against them, but she certainly scores a few points where she can, showing the enemy that she’s not going to be bullied by their strong-arm tactics and red tape.

The case that Müller takes on is puzzling, and the more she looks at the evidence the less she believes the officially sanctioned version of events. Why are the powers that be so keen for the investigation to follow a certain route? What evidence are they covering up, or not disclosing to Müller and her team?
Running alongside this is a strand of plot centring around a young woman who has already tangled with the Stasi and is keen to avoid them at all costs. But life in East Germany is never easy, especially when your name is already on a list belonging to the Stasi. As she struggles to get a handle on the situation she’s in, Irma faces up to demons from her past and realises that escaping the regime may be harder than she’d ever imagined.

Atmospheric writing evokes a strong sense of the setting, the biting cold of wintry weather almost makes you shiver involuntarily as you read on. The creeping unease that leeches from the pages is strong and grips you, you can’t help but be drawn in to the story and try to piece together the clues that Müller and her team uncover. The case is intense, and as things unravel slowly, I found I was gripped. I needed to keep reading, I had to know what happened to the woman that was found dead, I had to know what would happen to Karin Müller and her family.
One of the things I’ve loved most about this series so far is the the way that David Young manages to give his readers a great feel for life in East Germany under the repressive and feared administration of the Stasi. His writing transports readers to the setting, even if it is to the harsh conditions of Hohenschönhausen. This quality makes each of his books an immersive reading experience and has me eagerly awaiting the next book!

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** My thanks to Emily at Bonnier Zaffre Books for my copy of this book **



For the Stasi, it’s not just the truth that gets buried . . .

The body of a teenage boy is found weighted down in a lake. Karin Müller, newly appointed Major of the People’s Police, is called to investigate. But her power will only stretch so far, when every move she makes is under the watchful eye of the Stasi.

Then, when the son of Müller’s team member goes missing, it quickly becomes clear that there is a terrifying conspiracy at the heart of this case, one that could fast lead Müller and her young family into real danger.

Can she navigate this complex political web and find the missing boy, before it’s too late?


My Thoughts & Review:

It’s fair to say that I’ve been a fan of cold war thrillers and espionage reads for a long time, cutting my teeth on the likes of Len Deighton and John Le Carré, so when I first heard about this series back in 2015/2016 I jumped straight into reading it and quickly felt like I was in the company of a truly great writer.  Fast forward to 2018 and I am once again catching up with one of my favourite People’s Police comrades, Karin Müller in the third installment of the series.

For fans of the series, this book picks up some months along from the ending of Stasi Wolf, and although time has moved on Karin has adjusted to what life threw at her, it almost feels like we never parted.  Events feel fresh and interesting and the seedy clandestine world of conspiracy seems to leech into her everyday life regardless.
Now promoted to the lofty rank of Major in the People’s Police, Müller is tasked with heading up a new Serious Crimes Department to liaise at the highest levels with other agencies in the Republic, but at what cost?

One of the things I love about Young’s writing is that it feels so authentic, yes there is authorial license applied and this is a work of fiction but the essence of the plot feels real.  Having read many books set in the cold war, you become attuned to certain scenes, a certain level of tension and almost ready to be shocked when someone is identified as an agent (or double agent), but each book of this series gives the reader a feeling of being right there in the moment with Müller and deputy Tilsner.
The vivid descriptions of the settings and locations used in this book are superb, I could almost feel the chill of the air as Müller tried pull her raincoat lapels up to keep the sleet away from her face, I could almost smell the forest that Müller visited, and could see such clear images in my mind whilst I read of the scenes throughout.

The characters in the series continue to intrigue me, whilst we learn more about Müller with each book, we also learn a little more about her deputy.  Werner Tilsner has been a character that has drawn my attention for a while now, something about him keeps me on my toes and indeed it seems to give Müller a moment of pause too, is he a Stasi agent?  Where did he get his fancy watch?  Just what connections does he have?  I’ve not managed to work it out yet but that won’t stop my mind going into overdrive trying to puzzle it out!
Either way, they make a great team and work really well together.  There is a sense of loyalty there between them that Müller really needs when she’s dealing with the murky waters of the Stasi.

The glossary at the back of the book adds useful translations of the authentic German words used (I had great fun testing my knowledge of German with these and pleased to admit that I can still remember German curse words, all that time at school wasn’t wasted after all), and the author’s note adds an extra layer to the plot, explaining where artistic licence may have been employed or explaining details from the plot.

Absolutely masterful plotting, packed with tension and so wonderfully gripping, this is a magnificent book and I cannot wait to see what David Young has planned for book 4!

Highly recommended!!

You can buy a copy of A Darker State via:

Amazon UK
Book Depository

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