Captain Tuttle’s #CBR4 Review #9 – The Killing of Emma Gross by Damien Seaman
I love a good murder mystery. The funny thing about this one is that you find out who did it right at the beginning of the book. Or, at least, you think you know who did it. And it works, because the rest of the book explains how we got to the point where a detective in the Dusseldorf police force is stabbing a prostitute in the chest (no spoilers there, it’s on page 1).
The book is inspired by, and based on, the true story of Peter Kurten, the “Dusseldorf Vampire,” who went on a killing (and raping) spree in Weimar Germany in 1929 and 1930. The story monkeys with the timeline a bit, but it serves the greater good. Seaman integrates the real people who were involved in the investigation with his fictional characters, and uses them all to serve his idea of who killed Emma Gross, and why.
Emma Gross was a real person. She was murdered, and her death was investigated as one of Kurten’s. Kurten even confessed to the murder. But in real life, and in the book, Kurten got the details wrong. He didn’t kill her. In real life, her murder went unsolved. In the book, Seaman gives Emma Gross a story. It might be made up, but Seaman humanizes Emma Gross; he gives a reason for her death, so that she is not just another victim. She is a real person. I admire that.
The story flows well, and the writing is conversational, from the point of view of the detective investigating the murders. It’s a quick, engaging read, that kept me guessing throughout (I honestly did not figure out who the murderer was until very close to the end). I highly recommend The Killing of Emma Gross, especially if you like mysteries or procedurals. Or if you just like good stories.