This is the latest in the series by Paul Grossman about the famous and highly respected German homicide detective Willi Kraus. Over the course of Grossman’s several earlier books which I’ve reviewed, the thuggish fringe National Socialist movement grows into the terrifying Nazi juggernaut which destroys the Germany Kraus has known and loved, and soon drives German Jews—himself and his family included—into exile. As one of the last to flee before all escape hatches were slammed shut, the widowed Kraus arrives in Paris without belongings, without money, without a passport or ID papers, and most importantly to him, without a badge.
Kraus is no longer able to work as a detective and, unwilling to live on his rich in-laws’ charity, he gets hired by a private detective for what appears to be a simple boring job of following around a college student as a spy for the kid’s wealthy parents. The student leads a boring predictable life except for a rather beautiful and sultry girlfriend, and when the student gets stabbed in the Paris metro and dies in Kraus’ arms, our hero determines to get to the bottom of this mystery, which deepens when he learns that the kid was not well-off and the private detective who hired him disappears without a trace.
Meanwhile, Kraus has been greeted with unexpected admiration by a number of high-level French officials and he is soon befriended by a wealthy Jewish Frenchman who presides over a vast but paper-thin financial empire. As part of the flamboyant financier’s circle, Kraus ends up rubbing shoulders with all sorts of wealthy political and military elites, and discovers—almost too late—that his famous detective skills are being employed by a vast criminal empire with tentacles high up in the French government. He simultaneously gets tangled in a web of lust and deceit when he falls for the dead student’s girlfriend, and loses the respect of his own family. In order to stay alive and expose the conspiracy, he must plunge headlong into the shadows of the Parisian underworld.
Grossman’s latest book has the same combination of high-octane action, political intrigue, and historical accuracy that made his earlier books so effective, and despite Kraus’ less-than-credible love affair, the Brotherhood of Fear is, in my opinion, the best Kraus novel so far.