In The Pale Criminal it is accepted that
there is a serial killer. The similarities in the deaths of teenage girls in
Berlin are recognized by the Berlin police and the Nazi leadership.
U.S.S.R. of the early 1950’s there is a refusal to acknowledge a serial killer
can exist in the socialist state killing young boy after young boy in different
Communist China of the 1990’s the Party leadership is left with little option
for the killer clothes his victims in the classic Red Mandarin dress. Before
the economic liberalization the book suggests serial killers were kept secret.
However, in the new economy media must support itself and crime, especially
garish crime sells well.
dramatic costuming of the victims creates a media frenzy. The population is utterly
absorbed by the murders.
Nazis it is important to catch the real killer. Reinhard Heydrich, among the
most ideological of the top leaders, explains to Bernie that they must find the
killer as family is at the heart of the Nazi state.
the State is not concerned if the real killer is caught. As long as someone is
caught the mirage of the perfect socialist state is maintained. Local
authorities, under intense pressure from central authorities, select, almost at
random, a local “undesireable” to be charged,
convicted and executed.
Communist China as with the other regimes the presence of a serial killer is an
affront to the honour of the Party and leadership demands the police find the
Germany and Russia the news of the serial killers is kept secret. As bodies mount
in each country word is spreading of young people being killed but the state’s
crushing grip on media prevents widespread public disclosure.
out above the situation is different in Communist China where the state’s iron
grip on the media no longer extends to non-political crime coverage.
Germany and Communist China extensive resources are committed to the
investigations reflecting the determination of the estate to swiftly find the
Kafkaesque in Russia where the investigation takes place despite the State. The
Communist leadership sees an investigation as questioning the system. Leo
Demidov and his wife Raisa risk their lives to chase the killers.
sensitive investigations Bernie Gunther in Germany and Chief Inspector Chen in
China are adroit at managing their relationships with high ranking authorities
interested in the investigations. It is not enough to be a good investigator.
They must also be skilled politicians.
other hand Leo and Raisa are not adept at dealing with the authorities. Still
they would have had to go after the Russian killer by subterfuge in any event
because of the official denial there is a serial killer.
giving any spoilers I found it intriguing that in each of the books the
motivations of the killers stemmed from a connection with the ideology of the
governing dictatorship. The respective leaderships were right to be concerned
that the serial killers were challenging the State by their actions.
hard to say you enjoy a book about a serial killer. I was glad that I read each
of these books and appreciated how the authors worked their serial killer into
the political philosophy of the totalitarian state in which they resided.