Straightforward account of the historical curiosity of a sadistic serial killer preying on women in the heart of Nazi Germany.
Selby (The Axmann Conspiracy: The Nazi Plan for a Fourth Reich and How the U.S. Army Defeated It, 2012, etc.) notes that for Paul Ogorzow, an average-seeming railroad worker, “night had acquired new meaning in wartime Berlin”; with it, the entire city was his hunting ground. The historical record suggests Ogorzow was a fiend akin to Ted Bundy, a seemingly well-adjusted man (Ogorzow was married with children) secretly compelled to murder eight random women and assault others: "Giving up his attacks was not a consideration…[so] he focused on what he could do to become a better criminal." After some close calls, Ogorzow realized he could freely pursue women traveling on the blacked-out "S-Bahn" commuter line. Selby shifts perspectives between Ogorzow’s grisly misdeeds—which culminated in his flinging his still-living victims from the speeding train—and the “Kripo” (criminal police) detectives, determined to catch him yet kept in check by Heinrich Himmler and Joseph Goebbels, who “wanted to project an image of Nazi Germany…as a place free from such problems as the predations of a serial killer.” Old-fashioned detective work eventually snared the killer; neither Ogorzow’s belated attempts to blame “a Jewish doctor” for mistreating his gonorrhea nor his request for leniency as a Nazi “Brownshirt” delayed his appointment with the guillotine. Selby creates verisimilitude by focusing on numerous details of daily life in the Third Reich, demonstrating how everything from rail travel to law enforcement was bent to the will of Hitler's henchmen. Yet, he rarely exploits the obvious historical irony of Ogorzow's small-scale evil against the grander backdrop of Berliners' complicity in conquest and genocide, only noting that some of his pursuers went on to participate in war crimes.
The workmanlike telling of Ogorzow's pursuit and eventual capture lacks a certain impact, though fans of serial-killer narratives will surely be engaged.