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The Second Son (Berlin Trilogy #3)

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  200 ratings  ·  32 reviews
An Intriguing Historical Thriller Set in the Barcelona of the Spanish Civil War

On the eve of Hitler's Olympics, Chief Inspector Nikolai Hoffner, a half Jew, has been forced out of the Kriminalpolizei. Luckily, Hoffner's focus is elsewhere. His son Georg is missing in Spain, swept up in the sudden outbreak of the civil war. He has already lost Sascha, his elder son, who is
ebook, 304 pages
Published February 15th 2011 by Sarah Crichton Books
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The weakest of the the trilogy. The first two, though especially the first, Rosa, were top notch. Shadow and Light was also great. But once you take the main character, Hoffner, out of Germany, something is lost. Weimar and pre-Nazi Berlin was a great character in the first two books and while letting the third act play out in Germany might seem like it would have been too easy, I still missed the location. One note about Rabb's writing style - he is good, though sometimes there is a density to ...more
Im dritten Band seiner Berlin-Trilogie schickt Jonathan Rabb seinen Ermittler Nikolai Hoffner auf der Suche nach seinem vermissten jüngeren Sohn nach Spanien, wo Georgi als Kameramann unterwegs ist. Emigranten und Revolutionäre haben in Spanien alternative Olympische Spiele für Gegner des Nationalsozialismus organisiert als Gegenveranstaltung zur pompösen Inszenierung der offiziellen Spiele in Berlin 1936. Georgi Hoffner war offiziell als Reporter unterwegs, aber in jenen aufregenden Zeiten muss ...more
I liked Rabb's Shadow and Light a lot, wish I could say the same about Second Son. The first half of the book was simply too wordy and although the second half was better it was not enough to save it for me. I did not feel that the story was tightly drawn and the motivation of some of the characters escaped me. We've got Rebus and Renko - perhaps that's enough old detectives.
Bob Mustin

The Realm of History’s Minute Details

The Second Son, by Jonathan Rabb

If I were to imagine a book with a dose of Raymond Chandler, sprinkled liberally with Hemingway and seasoned lightly with Joseph Conrad and the Bible, it would be Rabb’s The Second Son. This, the third of a trilogy Rabb has written, takes place in Germany and Spain during the lull between the world wars. Germany is quickly becoming Nazi-fied and Spain is in the midst of a civil war between the socialist/communist bloc and Franc
Donna Brown
As I said in my review of the second book in this trilogy, becoming familiar with the numerous characters and, actually, Berlin itself made for an easier and more satisfying read. Now Mr. Rabb has picked us up and, not only moved us to mostly new characters and a new country in revolutionary Spain. Like the first two books, he seems to equate confusing geographical locations with plot. The excellent story line is actually buried by the constant new locations and characters. Before Mr. Rabb's mys ...more
I like Jonathan Rabb and have like the other two books of this trilogy - ha! I did NOT know it was a trilogy until I read it in this blurb - trilogy in that Nikolai Hoffman is the continuing character.

This novel is set in Spain and that was the piece that took me out of it. Whew. I have no context for that conflict and Mr. Rabb didn't help me here - chaos all the way for me in following and appreciating who is in which camp, so to speak. I never realized how much of a difference that does make -
Nikolai Hoffner, a brillant chief inspector of the Kriminalpolizei is forced out by the Nazi government because he is partly Jewish. His youngest son, Georg is a photo journalist working in Spain during their civil war. Nikolai, having lost his eldest son, Sascha to the Nazi regime decides to go to Spain to track down and bring Georg home. There are parts of the story that are so enigmatic that it is difficult to know who the 'bad guys' are. I lost interest.
Well written as usual from Mr. Rabb, but the plot just wasn't all that engaging. The characters along the way were moderately interesting at best. His ability to develop Hoffner's personal story was the book's saving grace, and kept me from stopping halfway thru.
Keith Currie
There are many mixed reviews of this novel around, but I enjoyed it. More serious than Philip Kerr's Berlin Noir, better plotted than Alan Furst, Rabb's half-Jewish policeman, NiKolai Hoffner, owes a debt to both. This is the third in a series and the last. I have read Rosa, the first, but not the second as yet. I did not find reading this one out of order any problem. Hoffner, removed from his job because of a Jewish ancestry he hardly recognised, travels to Spain in the throes of civil war in ...more
David Lowther
The Second Son is the final part of Jonathan Rabb's Berlin trilogy featuring the tough and cynical detective Nickolai Hoffner. For those of you who are unfamiliar with these books, the first, Rosa, is set in the immediate aftermath of the First World War. The second, Shadow and Light, is set in the late 1920s and the narrative of this novel takes place during the early stages of the Spanish Civil War.

I found the first novel difficult to follow at times but got the hang of it eventually. The seco
Nazi legislation to weed out Jews forces Chief Inspector Nicolai Hoffner to ‘retire’ from the Kriminalpolitzei. But Hoffner has a more pressing concern. His son, Georg, is missing in Spain, which is on the brink of outright civil war.

Having already lost one son to the Nazis, Hoffner has no choice but to go to Spain and find Georg. Before leaving Berlin, he learns Georg is more than the news photographer he appears to be.

Hoffner makes the journey with the assistance of criminals and smugglers he’
The second best of the trilogy -- not quite as strong as Rosa, but better (both in terms of plotting and in character development) than Shadows and Light. In this novel, the main character, Hoffner, leaves Germany -- seeking to find his younger son in Spain. Spain in the early days of its civil war replaces Germany as essentially another character in the story. The goings on in Spain, the maneuvers and manipulations behind the scenes by the great powers (their dress rehearsal, effectively, for W ...more
I wasn't really into the first two-thirds of the book and stuck with it only because it's set in Spain (partially in Barcelona). I adore most things de Espana, but my first-hand experience there is so tied to the present. The country has changed so dramatically in the decades since Franco died, and it's fascinating to learn more about what it was once like, especially at the time of the civil war. But the beginning of the book is a constant series of conversations among spies in which every comm ...more
1. You do have to read Rosa and Shadow and Light for this to make any sense in terms of plot.
2. If you don't (why don't you? They're both excellent novels), it will still be a good read because of the Spanish Civil War atmosphere and the quality of the writing.
This has been a great trilogy. The detective/thriller action of this series is in glorious service to the historical intent: to show the rise of fascism in Germany and Europe prior to World War II. In this last installment the action has moved from Berlin to Spain during the civil war. Nikolai has gone to Barcelona to find his younger son Georg, a photo-journalist who has gone missing. The civil war in Spain is a rehearsal for WWII and Rabb does not stint on the blood and tragedy. My only cavil ...more
I am always interested in books about the Spanish Civil War. This book is set just as the War begins, before people realize the tragedy about the take place. The story is - to me - improbable as it centers on Raab's German policeman who goes to Spain in search of his son. Suddenly, Hoffner's Jewish mother comes to haunt him - and his son who has fully embraced his Judaism by marrying a Jewish woman. So Hoffner goes to Spain to find his son, who may be a photographer,or may be a British spy. All ...more
Cooper Renner
A sharp and oppressive evocation of Nazism and the Spanish Civil War, wrapped into a "thriller".
Justin Askins
it was a good book but didnt finish
Margaret Sankey
Another in my collection of detective in extremis politics--the conclusion of a trilogy set in 1930s Germany. The hero is ex-Kriminalpolizei, pushed out by the Nazi seizure of power, which his eldest son has embraced enthusiastically. The younger one reacted by going off to fight for the Republicans in the ramping-up Spanish Civil War. Retrieving him and getting out of Europe will involve cashing in every chip collected in a career full of criminals, bureaucrats and big bads of varying political ...more
This was wonderful. I liked the first two in the trilogy very much but this one had a more human side to it - less thriller more emotional intensity. Rabb always paints vivid pictures of the places he sets his characters, and his language is equally lyrical. I'm not sure how to situate it in a genre. It's not a police procedural, although there are elements of that in the book. It's not a thriller although that's there, too. It's just a great read.
a nice noir of a retired Berlin cop going to Spain to find his missing son. Spain 1936, where son #2 is a camera man for Pathe news from England, and son #1 is a nazi SS dude (hiding his Jewishness, of course). The conflicts of father and two sons work well as an extended metaphor of Europe pulling itself apart with a brutality only families could conjure. I have tried Rabb before but this is probably his best book.
This is really good--if you are a big history buff. It gives an inside look at chaos of the Spanish Civil War and the hands-off/interference of other countries while half-Jewish, retired police officer Nicholai Hoffner leaves Nazi Berlin to rescue his second son, a photographer in Spain. His personal story against that backdrop is as chaotic as the journey through various areas of Spain.
This book is set in Spain and Germany during the early days of the Spanish Civil War when Franco came into power. There is a lot of sadness for the father who is the main character, but the story is complex and interesting. The main character has been a police detective in Berlin for 20 plus years. Because he is one quarter Jewish he is retired at the beginning of the book.
Set in Barcelona with some scenes in Berlin as usual for Hoffman. The end of the trilogy sets up the sons on different paths against background of the Spanish Revolution 1936 and the proxy War by Germany and Russia and Britain but also allows Anarchists eg Buenaventura Durruti and CNT-FAI a role in the events.
I enjoyed plot twists and the intelligence of the main character who is putting together the pieces of a puzzle. I did not know much about the setting or time in history. Some of it I glossed over, but I definitely learned something about the Spanish Civil War.
Aug 07, 2011 Sue marked it as decided-not-to-read  ·  review of another edition
An interesting concept - a German leftist, half-Jewish, in Spain at the very beginning of the Spanish Civil War, as the Nazis were still consolidating power in Germany. I read about one third, but I just didn't like the writing style.
The trilogy of Hoffer really made him a living person whose story was told beautifully. Glad I started & finished these 3 books.
An interesting novel set in Spain during the Spanish Civil war. Learned some things about an event I didn't know much about that
Feb 19, 2011 Sue marked it as to-read
"A German detective searches for his son during the Spanish Civil War."
Just the best. Time is 1936, the Spanish Civil War. Excellent.
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Jonathan Rabb grew up knowing he would be an academic. The son and grandson (on both sides) of historians, Rabb’s world shook at its very core when he opted to try his hand at political theory. As an undergraduate at Yale, Rabb divided his time among Locke and Hobbes and Hegel while spending his more reckless hours singing with the Whiffenpoofs and galloping across stage in such roles as Harry the ...more
More about Jonathan Rabb...

Other Books in the Series

Berlin Trilogy (3 books)
  • Rosa (Berlin Trilogy, #1)
  • Shadow and Light (Berlin Trilogy, #2)

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