ARC REVIEW: A Thousand Devils – by Frank Goldammer

Title: A Thousand Devils
(Max Heller, Dresden Detective #2)
Author: Frank Goldammer
Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 13th 2017
Publisher: AmazonCrossing
Finished reading: September 25th 2018
Pages: 312
(Originally written in German: ‘Tausend Teufel’)

“Nothing came for free. In a place where so many people hat lost their lives, it was a simple fact that you would pay somehow for still being alive.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and AmazonCrossing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I really enjoyed reading the first book of this series, The Air Raid Killer, earlier this year, so of course I wanted to read the sequel as well now that it is translated into English (out tomorrow!). I have to say that A Thousand Devils has only increased my interest in this series. The stories are what I call a perfect mix of historical fiction and a detective thriller, with our detective Max Heller trying to solve cases just after WWII in the German city of  Dresden. Talk about a fascinating setting! Learning more about the German situation just after the war is fascinating, especially in the subtle way Frank Goldammer incorporates historical elements. It makes the historical setting feel authentic and it was very interesting to see how the detective tried to do his job in an almost impossibly difficult situation. I feel A Thousand Devils will appeal to both historical fiction fans and detective thriller readers because of the well crafted balance of both genres, although I do have to warn for some graphic scenes, violence and abuse. That said, I think A Thousand Devils was even stronger than the first, and although set just after WWII this time instead of during the last year, you will find plenty of historical facts to absorb. There are lots of twists involved as well, cleverly executed to keep you guessing how everything fits together until the end… I can without doubt recommend this series.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first book of this series yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Two years after the bombing of Dresden left most of the East German city in ruins, survivors are still struggling to continue their lives and the suffering continues. The winter months have been brutal so far, and with supplies being low everyone has to fight to survive… The German citizens are not happy with the Russian occupation, and the Russians are always trying to keep everything under control. When the both of a brutally stabbed Russian officer is found, detective Max Heller is called to the scene. To make things worse, near to the body they find an abandoned backpack with another man’s head inside… Are the two cases connected? Is this an attack against the Russians or simply an act of rage? Detective Max Heller has a hard time figuring out the facts as he finds obstacles around every single corner.

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Whether you prefer reading historical fiction or detective thrillers, the content of A Thousand Devils will be able to satisfy your needs. It is not easy to combine the two genres in a natural way, but there is no doubt that Frank Goldammer has done an excellent job. From the writing to the plot development, historical details, suspense and characters… Everything just clicks together and makes it easy to imagine just being there right next to Max Heller trying to solve those cases. Recommended!


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WWW Wednesdays #189 – September 26th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading two more titles for the N.E.W.T. Readathon… I think they will be my last two, but who knows, I might squeeze in one more after these. The first is In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware, which I haven’t been able to continue since yesterdat but looks promising so far. I’m also starting All This I Will Give To You by Dolores Redondo, a translation and a story set in Spain I’m quite excited about.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The King’s Guard by Rae Carson (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 28/09
This third and final one is probably my favorite of the bunch. The King’s Guard is partly set in the royal palace and is partly an adventure and rescue mission. Hector makes a great main character of this novella and his character is very easy to like. The writing is solid as always and I managed to read it in no time at all… The plot and setting are well fleshed out for a novella and I had a great time reading this one.

2. Radiance Of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 28/09
While Radiance Of Tomorrow is a fictional story this time around, it has the same setting in Sierra Leone and the same emotional rollercoaster ride. Make sure to brace yourself before you start this one, because it won’t be a happy journey. Radiance Of Tomorrow tells the story of what happens in the ruined village Imperi after the war in Sierra Leone ended. The beginning sets the tone of what will become a heartbreaking, devastating and very emotional read, with little lights shining upon the hope the characters have things will become better in the future.

3. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (4/5 stars) REVIEW 30/09
It was a fascinating and wonderful ride to learn more about all those characters and stories. Norse Mythology is a collection of short stories, but told in a way that really flows and makes it easy to connect the different characters, myths and happenings. The writing is of course rock solid and of a high quality I’ve come to expect of Neil Gaiman. If you are interested in Norse mythology in particular or simply are looking for a well written and interesting collection of short stories, I can highly recommend this one

4. Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard (1,5/5 stars) REVIEW 30/09
I guess I wish I would have listened to those instincts now, because hello unpopular opinion review once again! Oh yes, there is one thing that is for sure: Pretty Little Liars 200% isn’t for me. The only reason I didn’t DNF is that I needed it for a challenge, and didn’t have time to go looking for a different title that fitted the prompt… That bad? Oh yes. Highly annoying and frustratingly obnoxious characters… Check. One high school cliche stacked on top of another high school cliche… Check. Writing I couldn’t connect to and atrocious behavior of the main characters… Check. Plot that didn’t do anything for me at all… Check. Lack of connection to the characters and plot and overall lack of interest in how things would evolve… Check. I did warn you it was going to be another unpopular opinion review!

5. The Wife’s Secret by Kerry Wilkinson (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 10/10
I always seem to enjoy Kerry Wilkinson’s books, and this one is no exception. The suspense is very well done and I think this is my favorite story yet. The writing is solid, engaging and makes you fly through the pages as you try to figure out what happened to his wife and what she is hiding. What a shocking history! There were a lot of things I definitely didn’t see coming and if you enjoy suspenseful psychological thrillers, I can definitely recommend this one.

6. A Thousand Devils by Frank Goldammer (4/5 stars) REVIEW 10/10
This is actually the second book of a series, and one I really enjoy. It’s a mix of historical fiction and detective thriller, with a detective trying to solve cases just after WWII in the German city of Dresden. Learning more about the situation just after the war is fascinating, especially in the subtle way Frank Goldammer incorporates historical elements and develops his setting perfectly. I can highly recommend this series!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

If I’m able to squeeze in one more N.E.W.T. book, it will definitely be Without Merit by Colleen Hoover. I’ve been meaning to read it for a while and I’m looking forward to it! I also need to read Tell Nobody by Patricia Gibney since the publish date is really close… The same goes for The Passion According To Carmela by Marcos Aguinis. I’m also curious about The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma.


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WWW Wednesdays #172 – April 18th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading Blood Runs Cold by Dylan Young and literally flying through it. It’s proving to be a worthy sequel so far. I’m about to start A Secondhand Lie by Pamela Crane (kindle freebie!) afterwards, which is a companion novella to A Secondhand Life I read last week  and I want to read it before I forget all the details about the story.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. A Secondhand Life by Pamela Crane (4/5 stars) REVIEW
If you like your thrillers fast, well written, suspenseful and with an unique touch, A Secondhand Life is the one for you. I personally loved the incorporation of ‘organ memory’ in the plot and how this element played such an important role in the investigation. I admit I didn’t really warm up to the main character, but her development is well done and my feelings for her didn’t influence my general feelings for the story. I was just too intrigued by the plot and twists to pay attention to minor details and possible flaws. A highly entertaining and addictive serial killer thriller with a twist, and without doubt worth reading.

2. The Air Raid Killer by Frank Goldammer (4/5 stars) REVIEW
Historical fiction is mixed with a classic detective thriller, as a serial killer and air raid bombs fight for the title of ‘most feared’ by the inhabitants of the city of Dresden. The writing style and initial plot make it really easy to get a proper feel for the story, and the first half of the story is without doubt the strongest part of the book. I would have preferred a continued focus on the detective thriller side of the story, which felt a bit rushed in the second half. But I also understand the switch and need for a focus on what happened in Dresden during those final days and after. While not perfect, The Air Raid Killer is without doubt a great read for anyone who wants to read a WWII story with a slightly different focus and angle.

3. The Summer Children by Dot Hutchison (4,5 stars) REVIEW 19/04
I thought it was going to be hard to outshine The Butterfly Garden, since it’s one of the best/most disturbed serial killer characterizations I’ve come across. But somehow, I think The Summer Children is the best book yet. From a consistant and superfast pace to likeable and realistic characters, a well developed plot and another intriguing and disturbing case… This third book just ticked all the boxed for me. Add the joy of revisiting old favorite characters and their bantering, and you have a new favorite The Collector book. Can you guess already I can recommend this one if you can stomach the graphic scenes and child abuse triggers?

4. The Chosen Ones by Carol Wyer (4,5 stars) REVIEW 20/04
DI Robyn Carter is one of my favorite detective thriller series and I always find myself looking forward to a new installment. Not only have the books a consistently strong writing, plot and plot twist development and interesting cases to lose yourself in, but there is also the mystery around Robyn Carter’s past that won’t let you go. The Chosen Ones has another shocking case and the final reveals will leave you wanting for more… And I think this fifth book might just be my new favorite. Recommended!

5. The Poison Plot by Elaine Forman Crane (DNF 31%; 0 stars) REVIEW 22/04
I really wanted to like this one because the promise of a murder plot, an 18th century setting and the blurb in general sounded fantastic. Sadly I had to end up DNFing it. Why? More in my review, but it had to do with both the writing style, general guesswork in a supposedly NON fiction read, overload of unrelevant and unimportant details unrelated to the key characters and the fact there is no proof whatsoever Mary ever poisoned her husband or that he was poisoned at all. Kind of destroys the purpose of this book, doesn’t it?

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I have one pending May NG ARC left: Find You In The Dark by Nathan Ripley, and I’m hoping to get to it before I leave next week. Fingers crossed! I’ve decided to only read non ARCs during our trip, and will be doing shorties reviews when I’m back. Yay for getting to read backlist titles! I’m probably picking up The Book Of Lost Things by John Connolly first depending on the mood I’m in. I want to finally start with The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater; maybe bingereading the final three books depending on how I like book two. And I’m finally going to pick up my latest TBR jar pick Summer Of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider as well.


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WWW Wednesdays #171 – April 11th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading A Secondhand Life by Pamela Crane, and I’m absolutely hooked so far. I was in desperate need of a fast thriller after my last read, and this book is giving me exactly what I needed! Also, I’ve decided to put Het Laatste Offer (the final offer) by Simone Van Der Vlugt on hold for now, both because I have quite a few ARCs I need to get to first, I’m not really convinced by the story so far and I simply feel too lazy to read in Dutch right now. 😉

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Scared To Death by Rachel Amphlett (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 13/04
Every once in a while you come across a series and/or a main character that manages to convince you from the very first chapter. Scared To Death and Kay Hunter are a perfect example of this feeling. I knew I was going to love this detective thriller almost right away, and not just because I knew fellow bloggers with a similar taste did. There is just something about the writing style and perfect use of suspense that will manage to hook you straight away. And I’m so glad I finally got to meet Kay Hunter! She is hands down one of my new favorite female detectives and the fact that she is both a strong female lead and doesn’t have a completely destroyed personal life was truly refreshing. The case itself was intense, slightly disturbing and had just the right amount of twists to keep things exciting. Without doubt a worthy crime thriller!

2. The Letter For The King by Tonke Dragt (3/5 stars) REVIEW 15/04
This was my very first MG read of the year and a translation of an older (1962) Dutch publication. I thought I had read it before when I was a kid, but apparently I was wrong, because I didn’t recognize the story. That said, I think I probably would have enjoyed it a lot better back then. I can’t put my finger on it, but I just couldn’t get used to the writing style and tone and it took me ages to finish this one. I felt it was rather slow and dragged at points… This story is over 500 pages long and I think it would have worked better with a faster pace and 200 pages less. The story itself is interesting as well as the quest the main character is on; I liked the worldbuilding. But overall it was just too slow for me. The right age-group will enjoy this story a lot better though, as long as they don’t have a short attention span.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I really need to finish some ARCs before I go on my trip, because the deadline falls during my planned hiatus time… There are now five in total (probably not going to happen…), but here are the three I’ll be trying to read next. First up is Find You In The Dark by Nathan Ripley, because I’m in the mood for thrillers in the first place. The Air Raid Killer by Frank Goldammer is another translation and set during WWII, so fingers crossed it will be a good one. And I also need to read The Poison Plot by Elaine Forman Crane, although I have heard mixed things about it and I’m not sure if it will be the right time for me to try and read it (even though I miss the deadline otherwise) My latest TBR jar pick is still Summer Of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider, which I’ve decided to read during my trip on one of the many train/bus rides in between places.


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WWW Wednesdays #170 – April 4th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading the first detective Kay Hunter book Scared To Death by Rachel Amphlett, a title I’ve been meaning to get to for ages and I’m SO excited to be finally doing so!! I’ve also started my first Dutch read of the year, partly in preparation for our Europe trip, although I admit I haven’t been picking it up much so far. Het Laatste Offer (the final offer) by Simone Van Der Vlugt is a thriller partly set in Egypt, but I’m having a hard time getting used to the writing style and tone so far (although part of the reason is me not being used to reading in Dutch and feeling awkward when doing so. xD)

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Good Twin by Marti Green (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 
There is no doubt whatsoever that The Good Twin has everything I look for in a psychological thriller and more. A well developed plot, interesting characters, just the right amount of suspense and plot twists to keep me guessing… And of course a writing style that is engaging and flows naturally. The premise of The Good Twin is fantastic, and the execution without doubt lives up to expectations. It’s easy to say I can recommend it to any psychological thriller fan. You will be in for a treat with this one!

2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (4/5 stars) REVIEW 08/04
I’ve been meaning to read this one for years, but there has been such a hype around this title that I’ve been a bit afraid to actually pick it up. I read Armada first last year, and wasn’t really blown away… But I was still determined to read Ready Player One one day. And I’m so glad I did, because I loved it so much better! From the setting to the characters, the worldbuilding and the game references… Such a great, well written and entertaining read!

3. Jilliand by Clare Gutierrez (3/5 stars) REVIEW 09/04
I admit I was sold as soon as I saw the cover and mention of vikings. I’m a huge fan of the TV show Vikings and I don’t think I’ve ever read a story about vikings before, so I was really excited to by reading Jilliand. And it was by no means a bad read, just that it didn’t manage to blow me away. There was just something about the tone and writing style that felt a bit distant and made it harder to connect to the story. Also, I felt there were sudden changes between scenes that either didn’t feel natural or simply didn’t connect with each other. More than once I found myself wondering suddenly what was happening, where they were or who the story was talking about… Not a good sign. I also felt the characters lacked some dept.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m trying to read all the ARCs due during the upcoming hiatus, so I have three NG ARCS lined up next. The first is a translation of an older Dutch book I think I have read before: The Letter For The King by Tonke Dragt. It’s also going to be my first MG read this year! I’m also looking forward to A Secondhand Life by Pamela Crane since the blurb sounds brilliant. The Air Raid Killer by Frank Goldammer is another translation and set during WWII, so fingers crossed it will be a good one. My latest TBR jar pick is still Summer Of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider.


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