Welcome to Berlin in the 1920s: a city filled with vice, violence, greed, corruption, and political mayhem.
Detective Inspector Gereon Rath is forced to leave the Cologne homicide squad after he accidentally kills a man. His well-connected father gets him a job with the Berlin vice squad, led by avuncular DCI Bruno Wolter. A raid on a porn studio almost gets Rath killed but nets vice a new informant, a junkie who will feature in Rath’s future cases. Berlin is full of Russians representing every point on the political spectrum, and after vice joins the police action to contain a communist May Day celebration, Rath, who longs to be back in homicide solving real crimes, decries politics to his boss. When an unidentified man is found badly mutilated in a car in a canal, Rath secretly works the case as he pursues his other duties. At the scene is Charly Ritter, law student and stenographer from the homicide division. Her mutual attraction with Rath quickly leads to an affair. Through his investigation of his vice and murder cases, Rath learns of a secret shipment of Russian gold that communists, Nazis, and gangsters are all desperate to find. In a strange twist of fate, Rath accidentally kills another criminal. Determined not to suffer the same fate he did last time, he hides the body and is assigned to find the killer once it is discovered. The life-and-death political battles over the soul of Germany are a major hindrance to Rath’s search for solutions to several interconnected crimes.
The first in a series that’s been wildly popular in Germany is an excellent police procedural that cleverly captures the dark and dangerous period of the Weimer Republic before it slides into the ultimate evil of Nazism.