I have been reading and enjoying this series since the beginning (Blood Eagle) but I feel I have waited a long time for my latest fix. It has, however, been well worth the wait as The Ghosts Of Altona is a cracking read and a worthy winner of the Bloody Scotland 2015 award, despite being set in Hamburg.
The novel starts with Jan Fabel getting shot and almost dying while looking for a child murderer. It then jumps forward 2 years. Fabel is back at work, participating in a near death experience group and much more relaxed about life than he was before when a set of remains are uncovered after being buried for 15 years in a car park. Fabel knows instantly that they belong to Monika Krone, his first case as a murder detective. Shortly after this a serial rapist escapes from prison and a famous painter who was fixated on Monika is murdered. Coincidence? Fabel doesn't think so.
The Ghosts Of Altona has a fascinating plot with some amazing twists and turns but is essentially an exercise in misdirection, like poor Zombie who has Cotard's delusion and believes he is the walking dead after a near death experience. NDE is a theme explored throughout the novel and Mr Russell leaves it to the reader to draw their own conclusions on the source or cause but he obviously believes it changes the personality. This is my own poor attempt at misdirection as I don't want to say much more about the plot in case I spoil the read. Suffice to say it is multilayered and nuanced.
I don't feel I have the words to describe the characterisation, except excellent. I really felt that I got to know them all, including the minor ones, as real people, from Fabel's need to be open to Anna's guilt over his shooting and all points in between.
My best advice is just read it and you won't be disappointed.