The Sleepwalkers
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The Sleepwalkers (Willi Kraus #1)

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  558 ratings  ·  222 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
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Paperback, 336 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2010)
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C.W.
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
Deanna
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 the reader so deeply is that the characters were just trying to live their lives. They...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
Jane
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
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
Mcrmilhist
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.
Glenj
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 diff...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
Jill
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
Regina
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. However...more
Barbara Mitchell
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, stron...more
Dawn
I was possibly expecting too much from this book when I started it and ended up being quite disappointed by it.

Willi Kraus is a famous detective in the Berlin police force at the end of 1932. When a young woman with inexplicably deformed legs is washed up of the banks of the Havel River, Willi takes the lead in the murder investigation. When a politically sensitive missing person case is also added to his case load Willi must find out why beautiful young women are sleepwalking their way into obl...more
Abigail
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
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
Michael Klein
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
Navin
From the book's jacket:

"The Sleepwalkers is a powerful, dramatic debut thriller of a nation's unstoppable corruption, featuring a good man trapped between his duty to serve and his grave doubts about what, and whom, he serves."

A rich setting: "Berlin, 1932, in the final days of the Weimar Republic, as Hitler and his National Socialist Party angle to assume control of Germany..."

An intriguing hero: "A decorated World War I hero and the nation's most famous detective, Willi is also a Jew..."

Sound...more
Adam Voyton
This is a haunting glimpse into the time period before Hitler’s rise to power in Berlin, Germany. A psychological thriller with deep insights to mass group hypnosis. A vivid look to the atrocities of the Holocaust and the foul experimentations on humans. The dangers of taking ideas too far, such as Eugenics. The insanity and sadistic nature of human kind.

The story follows the exploits of a high profile Jewish police detective. The inspector escorts you over the stormy skies of a pre-Nazi ruled G...more
Jessica Samide
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
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
Jody
“This is the first in a new series featuring featuring a German Jew police detective at the time of the Nazi takeover of Germany. It was a good enough story but after half a lifetime reading mysteries I found this rather predictable. I was able to foresee many events before they were revealed and found many of the characters cliched. The friend reporter, the hooker with a heart of gold and a wife lost to violence. I did like the protagonist but not enough to continue the series. Other than the h...more
Chris
I won this book from a goodreads giveaway.

Ok, first of all, the writing in this book was simply bad. I sent numerous passages to friends so we could all have a good laugh. Some passages read like a bad romance novel. Other passages read like a bad homosexual romance novel.

And then there was the way Grossman handled the linguistic tension between writing a novel in English but having all the characters be German. He didn't do a good job. At several points, he even had characters say a phrase in G...more
Susan
I was lucky enough to win a copy of Paul Grossman's book, The Sleepwalkers, through Goodreads, and I am so glad that I did. I will admit that I do not read a whole lot of historical mysteries having focused on contemporary ones, but after reading this book I plan on changing that. Grossman does an amazing job at building up a Germany right before that Nazi takeover. The reader gets to see this changing world through the eyes of the main character who in the beginning of the book was a decorated...more
Jeff Hanson
The Sleepwalkers is an entertaining piece of historical detective fiction, much like Tom Rob Smith's Child 44. Set at the end of the Weimar Republic, just before the Nazi's rise to power, this book aims to capture the atmosphere and dread that Child 44 does of Stalinist Russia. Willi, a renowned Jewish detective and decorated war hero, is beginning to realize that the Berlin he grew up in is no longer a safe place for him or his family to live. And when he comes across a bunch of mad Nazi doctor...more
S.C. Langgle
Willi Kraus is a top detective in Berlin, 1932--and he's Jewish. That would be enough drama for a novel right there, but add in some strange incidents of women sleepwalking and disappearing throughout the city, as well as a woman's body washing up on the shores of the Havel River with her legs gruesomely deformed, and you have a compelling, nonstop thrill ride of a book.
The dark, decadent atmosphere of Berlin in the 1930s is the perfect atmosphere for a noir thriller, and author Paul Grossman ta...more
Joseph
I received this book through the Goodreads Firstreads giveaway program. That being the case, I really didn't know what exactly to expect when I started reading it. The book takes place in Berlin, immediately before the Nazis rise to power. The protagonist is a Jewish detective trying to solve several strangely difficult cases.
The story is riveting. After enough pieces come together, you know how it has to finish, due to actual historical events, but that makes it so much more riveting. Then you...more
Tim
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
Gail
Oct 11, 2011 Gail rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Mystery fans and history fans of world war II and Germany during Nazi's control
I received this book free through a first reads book giveaway. This book is meticulous in it's portrayal of Germany on the verge of Hitler and the Nazi taking control. If you are into this type of history then this book is for you. That said, this is a fictional mystery story and the SA and SS {different divisions within the Nazi}are at the very heart of it. Just as the Nazi's were sinister, so is the story involving them is sinister. With the progression of the story the feeling of menace grows...more
Jody
I started out really not wanting to like this book. I got this book free from Goodreads giveaways and could not wait to get it. When I started reading it and noticed the usage of German in the first few pages I thought, "I am not going to be able to take this." But something happened on about page 4-5, the story captured me. The further I got in this book the more I could not stand to put it down. Isn't that what a good book is supposed to do? I felt myself really pulling for the main character...more
Rob Kitchin
The Sleepwalkers is a police procedural thriller where a cunning and connected Jewish detective takes on the upper echelons of the newly formed and secretive SS. It’s a nice premise and certainly makes for a page-turner as Kraus does his best to expose the dark secret that led to death of the woman found on the bank of the Havel river. The sense of place and time is good, with Grossman effectively conveying the uncertainties, confusion, paranoia and culture of the dying days of the Weimar Republ...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...
Children of Wrath Brotherhood of Fear: A Willi Kraus Novel Finger of Guilt: A Bonus Story Kindersucher: Kriminalroman (German Edition) Schlafwandler: Kriminalroman (German Edition)

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