Rabb, Jonathan. Rosa. Crown. Feb. 2005. c.416p. ISBN 1-4000-4921-0. $24.95. Fiction.

In Berlin, during the Socialist upheavals of 1919, Detective-Inspector Nikolai Hoffner and his ambitious but bumbling assistant Hans Fichte have their hands full. The bodies of several women are being discovered in excavation pits, each with an unusual pattern cut into her back. One of the bodies is that of Rosa Luxemburg, the revolutionary cofounder of Spartacus (later the German Communist Party). Soon complications arise, including a copycat killer, the intervention of the political police, a deranged former lace-maker escaped from an asylum in Belgium, and the possible involvement of the military. Rabb (The Book of Q) spins a complex tale that is so convoluted interest wanes in the last third of the book. But his re-creation of post-World War I Berlin is masterful, and the relationship between the brilliant but flawed detective and his inexperienced assistant is absorbing. For readers who enjoy speculative history and intricate mysteries.

LJ, 130, no. 3 (February 15, 2005), 124.

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