Monday, 24 December 2018

Babylon Berlin - Volker Kutscher

This is the original book (2007) of the TV series (2017). You'd be hard pressed to recognise it. The characters are different - Detective Inspector Gereon Rath is addicted to morphine in the series but only dabbles in cocaine in the book; Charlotte Ritter is a prostitute who wants to be a detective in the series but is a well brought up clerk in the book. Some characters are renamed for the series, others wholly invented for. For example, the Countess is a key figure in the series, a cross dressing singer in the central nightclub; in the book she makes a fleeting appearance towards the end, never sings, and the club which is the whole point of the series barely figures. Perversely, the only really interesting character in the book, other than Rath - gangland supremo Doktor Marlow aka Doktor Mabuse - doesn't make it to the series where he is replaced by the fairly anodyne 'Armenian'.

In short, the book is nowhere near as good as the TV series and I simply cannot understand why the companies involved bothered to buy the rights when they could (and largely did) make up an original period piece without being stuck with the rubbishy main storyline (tedious hogwash about smuggled Tsarist gold). Nothing about the book smacks of 'international best seller'. It starts well but rapidly loses pace and ends up about 40% longer than the storyline warrants. I've no idea whether the translation, by Niall Sellar, accurately conveys the original, but there is a horrific blooper towards the end - 'pedalled' rather than 'peddled' - which should see whoever did the proof reading summarily dismissed.

As you might surmise, I was hugely disappointed. I did like the cover art, though.

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