It’s just after the war and before the Nuremberg trials. The werwolves ( young boys indoctrinated by the SS to wreak havoc on the Allies through sabotage and murder, operating as quasi-commandos after the war) were giving grief to supply officers. A Thriving Black Market A unique combination of characters: Former Chief Inspector Beck is in a POW camp, Kate, is an American journalist whose father is an important senator, Colonel Jensen is a lecherous officer trying to maintain supply lines, and Captain Nathan Morgan, a former OSS espionage agent and ex- NY homicide detective who springs Beck from jail to gain his assistance in finding out who has been killing people by slitting their throats and leaving a page from a novel behind with certain words underlined. But the investigators don’t have exactly clean hands either. Lots of grays.
Let us say, then, that my Gestapo colleagues and I had a falling out over who was really in charge of criminal investigations in the Nuremberg district. That argument manifested itself specifically and, finally, in a needless and idiotic order. I refused to institute it at Kripo; ergo, I was a political criminal.” “The order?” Beck hesitated, blew air out, shrugged. “To shoot on sight any Jew caught in the district after the final transports had been sent to the occupied territories. It seemed a senseless piece of cruelty. Those people would be sent to their deaths once captured anyway. Why make my Kripo personnel complicit in their murder?” The American officer was silent, staring at Beck with those innocent but not so innocent eyes. “Not exactly what you wanted to hear, eh? Not exactly drawing a line in the sand for morality.” “So you admit knowledge of the death camps?” “Of course. All of Germany knew.
Nuremberg had been declared a “dead” city by the Allies. For the trials it was perfect; for criminal, too.
There was limited electricity, public water, or transport, and barely any mail or telephone to speak of in the several months after the end of the war. The local government was a joke, and the occupation authorities were the only thing between the city and total anarchy. Three months earlier, OSS analysts had declared the place among the dead cities of Europe. But the accident of a huge Palace of Justice complex, inexplicably untouched by Allied bombing that had leveled the rest of the inner city, made it the venue for the trial of the century. There was the further confusion of shared authority between the Allies themselves and between the Allies and the German police who had only started operating again last month; the complete absence of societal controls—women who would screw for an orange, displaced men who’d murder for less; a lack of records to track known criminals. A cop’s nightmare.
An excellent murder mystery set in an interesting location during an intriguing historical time period.