Monday, September 7, 2015

The Brandenburg Hotel: Review

Written in 1976, The Brandenburg Hotel by Pauline Glen Winslow is a historical mystery set just two years after the end of World War II. The Brandenburg is a luxury hotel which serves as home for German refugees recently released from imprisonment as aliens during the war years. Most are waiting to see if they will be allowed to stay in England or if other countries will offer them a safe haven. But for one of them safe haven comes too late.

Ingeborg Rilke was a beautiful model. Her sad eyes gazed at the world from the covers of top magazines. She had the love and patronage of the handsome, older man Franz Diener, the selfish friendship of Lise, the sympathy of the passionate Fitz-Marley, the kindness of Mrs. Roth, and the welcome home of the hotel owner's wife. But she was also the target for hatred from someone in the hotel. One of these? Or one of the other refugees? When Ingeborg has the opportunity to leave for a new life, someone makes sure she never leaves the grounds of the hotel.

Suspicion immediately falls on Diener, the frenzied attack on the beautiful young woman looks much like that of a lover spurned. However, much as the circumstantial evidence seems to point that way, the local Superintendent Pritchard can't see Diener as the culprit. He has gotten to know the man well since his release from the internment camp and believes that if Diener felt the need to kill he would do so much more coolly and cleanly. Since Pritchard recognizes that his personal involvement may cloud his judgment, he requests that Scotland Yard take over the case. Superintendent Snow and Detective Capricorn are sent to investigate. Snow is ready to accept the easy answer, but Capricorn, like Pritchard, isn't sure that the easy answer is the right one.

This is my second Capricorn novel. The first was Copper Gold (fourth in the series) and it wound up being a DNF (Did Not Finish). Why, you may ask, did I venture to read another? Well, they both were in my possession before I read Copper Gold and I decided to give Winslow another chance to impress me. I can't say she succeeded. The good news is--I finished this one. The bad news is--Merle Capricorn is a remarkably uninspired detective. He comes from a show business family (magicians if you must know), so you'd think the man would have a bit of flair. But Winslow has made him so reluctant to acknowledge his roots, that he goes out of his way to be boring and nondescript. Just the teensiest bit of pizzazz  would go a long way here.

The plot is also very slow and very talky. Lots of conversations. Very little actual detecting. And for those of us who like to play detective along with the lead character, clues aren't exactly thick on the ground. It will take a bit hocus-pocus on the reader's part to spot the killer before Capricorn nabs him/her. And I'm still not sure that I understand why the killer thought they needed to kill poor Ingeborg--and it's supposedly explained.

There are apparently four more books in this series. I can safely say that I won't be seeking them out.   and a half.

This fulfills the "Place in the Title" square on the Silver Vintage Bingo card. It also counts as my third entry for Rich's Crimes of the Century feature for September. This month is focused on crime fiction from 1976. Got mysteries from 1976 that you can read and review? Come join us!



Anonymous said...

Nice premise but shame it didn't really work - I shall consider myself duly warned, thanks Bev.

neer said...

I am with Sergio, the premise seems very interesting. Sad that it didn't work out because I love mysteries set in a hotel and would have searched for this one.

fredamans said...

Sorry this didn't cut it either for you. Great review!