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The Sleepwalkers (Willi Kraus #1)

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  827 Ratings  ·  248 Reviews
In the final weeks of the Weimar Republic, as Hitler and his National Socialist party angle to assume control of Germany, beautiful girls are seen sleepwalking through the streets.  Then, a young woman of mysterious origin, with her legs bizarrely deformed, is pulled dead from the Havel River.  Willi Kraus, a high ranking detective in Berlin's police force, begins a murder ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2010)
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Deanna Against Censorship
You must read this book. It starts slow. Do not give up. This is one of those precious books that completely surrounds the reader. One cries, shouts and mourns, yet one has hope. The hero is flawed but has a deep moral compass. He tries to save others. He fails some. He succeeds some. He carries on. I have read many stories and histories of this time. One knows these monsters' story. What made this book touch this reader so deeply is that the characters were just trying to live their lives. They ...more
C.W.
Sep 13, 2011 C.W. rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite periods in 20th century history is pre-Nazi Berlin; a fragile time before the rise of an era of unspeakable darkness, when the city was a fabled cosmopolitan smorgasbord full of vibrancy- an international magnet for artists, bohemians, eccentrics, and the curious. The Berlin we know today is very different from the Berlin of before World War II and Paul Grossman’s THE SLEEPWALKERS offers us a superb evocation of that city’s pathos and tragic hedonism in the weeks leading up to ...more
Noran Miss Pumkin
Give away book received from Goodreads first read give-away.

Mein namen ist Willie! (Well there goes most of my 30 year old HS German.) I will be your tour guide to 1933-34 Berlin. I will take you to the largest restaurants and biergarten's in the city-some seat thousands of hungry and thirsty people daily. I will introduce you to the infamous Boot Girls of Berlin-remember to buy your guidebook-so you know which lovely lady offers which services(really true!). I will show you The Wiemar underbell
...more
Jane
Dec 26, 2011 Jane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Where I got the book: LibraryThing Early Reviewers program

Inspektor-Detektiv Willi Kraus's new case involves a corpse whose leg bones are the wrong way round. And a sleepwalking princess. Stringing together the clues drags him into contact with history; in Berlin in 1933, Hitler's National Socialists are gaining more power, more rapidly than anyone could have imagined. And they seem to be implicated in the mysterious disappearances.

Kraus starts out thinking that he's looking for an ordinary seri
...more
Jill
Jan 26, 2012 Jill rated it really liked it
This book, set in late 1932 Weimar Germany, is one scary book. One reason I like dystopias so much is that the horrible people in them are just pretend. But the Nazis who came to power in early 1933 were not pretend, and they committed atrocious crimes. And this close-up look at Berlin just as the brownshirts were taking it over is frightening both for what is described and for what you know will be coming later.

Inspektor-Detektiv Willi Kraus, 35, is a respected Berlin homicide cop who received
...more
Barbara Mitchell
Sep 27, 2011 Barbara Mitchell rated it it was amazing
I was interested in reading this novel because it is set in 1932-3 Germany, the end of the Weimar Republic and beginning of Hitler's Third Reich. This period and on through World War II in Germany's history is endlessly fascinating to me. How could Hitler and his Nazi Party seduce a whole country and commit such horrors as the attempt to annilate all Jews, gypsies, communists, handicapped people, and anyone else they didn't like? All this in an effort to form an unsullied blue-eyed, blond, ...more
Paul Pessolano
Paul Grossman has put together a mystery/thriller that is based largely on historical fact. The story takes place in Berlin on the verge of the Nazi takeover. Grossman depicts a Berlin that is not only alive with cultural brillance but also the home of unheard of decadence.

Inspector-Detektiv Willi Krauss, a Jew and decorated war veteran, finds himself investigating a series of missing person cases. The cases all involve beautiful women with beautiful legs. Those who have seen them just before th
...more
Glenj
Nov 17, 2010 Glenj rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was sent this book as a Goodreads "first-reads" giveaway. There is certainly a lot to make this debut novel from Paul Grossman worth reading. In 1932 Berlin, as the Nazi's are about to rise to power, a mysterious body washes up on shore as Germany's most famous detective is on the case of a dead woman whose legs have been somehow "re-attached" backwards. The backdrop of a collapsing Weimar Republic is the highlight of this debut novel as Willi, a Jewish Detective is pulled in all sorts of ...more
Michael Klein
Jan 13, 2013 Michael Klein rated it really liked it
A meticulously researched novel about the same time period and location I'm writing about - 1930s Berlin. It's a very exciting and fast paced thriller with just the right combination of history and the writer's imagination.

Grossman does an excellent job of giving us a smart and conflicted protaganist: a celebrated Jewish police detective, who is also a highly decorated war hero, who is torn between an intriguing case and a world that is literally crumbling around him - decending into the insani
...more
Manchester Military History Society (MMHS)
In interesting premise - a Jewish detective on the Murder Squad in Berlin towards the end of 1932 just before the Nazi takeover.


The author seems to cover well the atmosphere of Berlin in 1932, but I found the characterisations and dialogue a bit thin.

However, the story rolls on a quick pace and kept me entertained. Not a "great" read, but I did like it and if you're interested in pre-WW2 Berlin and enjoy the David Downing "Station" series then this would be worth a look.
Julie Kellner
Sep 18, 2016 Julie Kellner rated it really liked it
This if the first time I have read this author. I stumbled across this book in my local library and thought I would give it a go, and I am glad I did.

It is a great thriller set in pre Nazi Germany in the 1930's. The story follows Will Kraus, a Jewish detective, set among the turmoil as Hitler starts to come to power. This story is original and thrilling

Highly recommended





Alicia
Nov 02, 2011 Alicia rated it liked it
I won this book through Goodreads First Reads giveaways. The story was intriguing and original and I liked that it was loosely based on actual events that occurred during WWII. The crimes were horrific, but they were unusual crimes that are uncommon to Holocaust books. I had high hopes that this book would be a great, fast-paced thriller. While I did enjoy it, it wasn't without its flaws.

My first problem with this book was that there were too many characters and not enough was written about them
...more
Steve Smits
"The Sleepwalkers" is a blend of historical telling of the Nazi's assumption of power in 1933 and a captivating police mystery. Although the author takes a few liberties with the sequence of events (he admits these), his depiction is largely accurate and is coupled with a compelling story of the protagonist's efforts to expose the Nazi's horrific racially motivated crimes. Willi is an acclaimed police detective, widely famous for a crime he has solved, who is also a Jew. As the Nazi's get closer ...more
Tuck
May 21, 2013 Tuck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
fast read, takes place in berlin nov. 1932-feb 1933 (from just before hitler became chancellor to right after he burned the reichstag). about a jewish police murder detective who finds that nazi doctors have been doing research on live humans in their new secret clinic, institute for racial hygiene.
a fast read, his first novel, and though perhaps he tries to juggle too many characters and plots, in the end a satisfying and exciting debut. he even tips his hat to bernie gunther (sort of, or at l
...more
Regina
Jun 19, 2012 Regina rated it liked it
I was very excited to receive this novel as a Goodreads giveaway. Unfortunately, it took me forever to finish it (not the fault of the book-just life). The novel does start slowly, but is worth the read. It is also somewhat darker than my usual fare. I find that I am not a mystery novel kind of gal. I made the exception for this novel due the setting and plot: Germany on the cusp of World War II and Hitler's rise to power. This provides for a lot of tension and suspense within the story. ...more
Abigail
Sep 23, 2011 Abigail rated it liked it
I liked this book, but didn't love it. The setting and history involved was fascinating. Berlin on the eve of the Nazi take-over is like watching a train wreck, you just can't look away. I often found myself yelling at the main character in my head, "GET OUT!! GET OUT NOW!!!" Which is probably the point.

The mystery itself seemed like just a method to talk about 1932-33 Berlin. It just wasn't that much of a mystery; not strong enough for what seemed to be the supposed glue of the book. The charac
...more
Tasha
Aug 20, 2012 Tasha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good hist fic mystery. I loved the real historical info and scene descriptions throughout the book, you can tell the author loves history and did his best to make it as real as possible (with a few changes which he mentions later in the author's note). I felt the mystery was a good, solid one with more to come after the mystery was solved. Often times, I lose interest once the mystery/crime is solved but in this case, the author keeps you on the edge of your seat even after the fact.

My one gr
...more
Manuela
Jan 14, 2016 Manuela rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: storico, giallo
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jessica Samide
Oct 17, 2011 Jessica Samide rated it really liked it
A really intriguing storyline that takes place in one of most important and interesting time period in history. It was pretty good mystery not great but good. My favorite thing about this book was that it was historically accurate to my knowledge. very well written and I'll be waiting for Paul Grossman's next book.
Bethica
Oct 05, 2011 Bethica rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2011
This book was AMAZING from start to finish. Grossman puts you into a world so vivid and full of life that you actually feel like you're there. This is one the characters will stay with you for a long time.
Karen
So, this was blurbed as "a riveting debut" and praised by NPR, which raised my expectations a bit. It's a mystery thriller set in Weimar Germany, immediately before (and during) Hitler's rise to power. The setup is annoyingly familiar: a woman is found mutilated & murdered, a man has to solve the crime. I keep thinking we're going to get past this trope, but apparently not. Still, I sighed and gave it a shot.

Warning: strong language, gross and possibly trigger-y stuff.

(view spoiler)
...more
Jill Meyer
Nov 05, 2016 Jill Meyer rated it really liked it
Paul Grossman's first novel, "The Sleepwalkers" is set in Berlin, 1932, just as the Nazis are seizing power. Willi Kraus is a detective-inspector at "the Alex", the police headquarters in the Alexanderplatz. He's famous throughout Berlin as the catcher of a particularly nasty criminal, "The Child Eater". (Not much left to the imagination there).
Kraus is a widower and the father of two young sons. He is also Jewish, at a time when things are turning really nasty for Germany's Jews.

He's assigned a
...more
Denise Dougherty
Solid 3 stars. I liked this character - and the time period. Usually I read WW1 or late 1930s (Philip Kerr) pre-WW2 but haven't read any stories in this era. Probably not a good time to read this story - the eve of the Nazi take-over & Hitler's ascension to Chancellor in early 1933 - with the Trump parallels. It certainly gives you food for thought as the citizens either consistently said it would "blow over" or embraced the extremism and violence. First time I've read this author and will ...more
Eccentrika
Fin dalle primissime pagine appare evidente che "I sonnambuli" è un thriller storico di altissimo livello, che non potrà lasciare indifferente il lettore.
Ambientato a Berlino, nell'inverno del 1932-1933, si evince un clima di estrema tensione e incertezza. Sono gli anni che fanno da spartiacque tra la prima e la seconda guerra mondiale, Hitler è già un personaggio di spicco ma non è ancora salito al potere, le discriminazioni agli ebrei sono già iniziate. Alcuni esasperati hanno già preso la de
...more
Ryan
Oct 11, 2016 Ryan rated it it was amazing
Wow! I am a historical junkie especially when it comes to the world war 2 era. The Sleepwalkers is a fictional book but it draws from so many real events around that time. You really get the feel of living in Berlin in the 1930's. After a slow start I was completely hooked and can't wait to continue this series! 5/5
Maria
Sep 06, 2012 Maria rated it really liked it
*I received a complimentary copy of this book as part of the Goodreads First Reads program*

In his novel, The Sleepwalkers, Paul Grossman's protagonist Willi is a famous detective in 1930's Berlin who is charged with solving the mystery of a disfigured corpse found floating in the river. As Willi delves further into his investigation, however, he discovers more than he expected: a sinister underworld running through Berlin, a surrealist dreamscape of horrors perpetrated by a shadowy political gro
...more
I love books
Apr 01, 2012 I love books rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Willi Kraus è l'Inspektor Detektiv della Kripo (Kriminal Polizei) più famoso della Germania; questo e le sue amicizie ai piani alti gli permettono di continuare a svolgere il suo lavoro anche in un periodo molto difficile per gli ebrei tedeschi. Siamo alla fine del 1932, le elezioni sono alle porte e il partito di Hitler comincia a raccogliere seguaci; le SA e specialmente le SS sono sempre più spesso protagoniste di disordini e inneggiano ad una Germania depurata dai "non ariani". In questo ...more
Tim
Oct 01, 2011 Tim rated it really liked it
Set in pre-Nazi Germany, this novel is a captivating caper to capture a mad surgeon who reconfigures humans. What creeps forward as an instance of the stage hypnosis of one audience member grows into a parade of missing nervous sleepers and eventually populates a crazed, spellbound world of Germans mesmerized by Adolph Hitler.

Inspector Detective Willi Kraus investigates an odd drowning victim and later is harnessed with locating a missing princess. Beyond the problematic police work that confron
...more
Wendy
Mar 29, 2015 Wendy rated it liked it
This book is an easy read in some respects; in others, not so much. It's an interesting premise: that an inspector detective stumbles upon the beginnings of the Nazi Racial Hygiene program, and believes that he can not only stop it, but that the world will care. The naivete creates a nice counterpoint to main character Willi's friends, many of whom see the writing on the wall as early as 1933 and manage to get out of Germany before the ax really falls.

There is suspense here, and characters I gre
...more
Kristen
Sep 28, 2011 Kristen rated it really liked it
The Sleepwalkers, a historical thriller/mystery set in 1932/1933 Berlin, draws readers in to a frightening Germany where so many of its people seemed mesmerized by the charismatic Adolf Hitler. It's as though they'd been hypnotized - as if they were sleepwalking. Debut author Grossman uses that metaphor to build a mystery where beautiful, foreign women really are last seen sleepwalking—and then never seen again—except for one, who turns up drowned, her legs horrifically mutilated in a way that o ...more
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Paul Grossman is the critically acclaimed author of two novels, with a third on the way. The Sleepwalkers, was published in 2010. His second, Children of Wrath released in February, 2012. He is also a long-time teacher of writing and literature at the City University of New York. His works have been translated into German, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew and Portuguese.
More about Paul Grossman...

Other Books in the Series

Willi Kraus (3 books)
  • Children of Wrath (Willi Kraus, #2)
  • Brotherhood of Fear (Willi Kraus, #3)

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