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The Scientist of Berlin

Length: 9 hrs and 6 mins
4 out of 5 stars (62 ratings)

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Summary

From LA to Berlin, from present day to the 1940s, journey from glamorous Santa Monica to the deepest darkest corners of Nazi Germany.   

David Collins, a British private investigator living in LA, is hired by Geoff Hoffman, a billionaire tech magnate running for the US Senate in California. As his campaign is threatened by rumours of a past scandal, Hoffman tasks David with discovering the truth. And soon David uncovers troubling facts - ones that lead back as far as Hoffman’s Jewish grandfather during World War II.   

An alternating narrative contrasts the dark, depraved world of Nazi Germany with the corporate, sun-scorched landscapes of Los Angeles in 2019.   

As these two stories come together, we become engulfed in a gripping combination of contemporary thriller and historical novel.  

Daniel masterfully weaves themes of identity, belonging, and heritage into a historical thriller peppered with revelations.

©2018 Daniel Pembrey (P)2019 Audible, Ltd.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

When a Decades-old War Still Has Bite!

This is a quite absorbing read from Daniel Pembrey who is a new author to me but who generates enough intrigue to make me think he could well be worth following in the future. This novel cleverly intertwines a modern day investigation amongst some of America's most decadent Nouveau-riche and events that occurred amongst the most evil in the Nazi regime and those in thrall to them. There are some quite delicious parallels between the behaviour of those reviled Nazis and those that are powerful in modern-day America. They make for fascinating if possibly uncomfortable reading if you consider the implications which are never overtly drawn by the author but are there all the same.

The split narration works tremendously well with George Blagden providing a bright and engaging modern-day David Collins, the British PI in America. When the story turns back the years to the 1940s it is Stephan Grothgar, who is of course a native German speaker who provides a gruffer and authentically atmospheric vision of those grim days in Nazi Germany.

I'd definitely describe this more as absorbing than thrilling and I thought that the ending and how it all came together was very cleverly done. I definitely preferred the scenes in Nazi Germany and at the end I was pleased to find a 25-minute documentary / interview with the author which explored some of the places in those parts of the book.

All in all, a really solid read that I genuinely enjoyed.

23 of 23 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Helen
  • United Kingdom
  • 30-09-19

Couldn’t put this down!!

A thoroughly gripping book beautifully narrated, I couldn’t leave it alone and finished it within one day. The alternating time periods style going from the past to the present and back gives you a good insight that the investigator does not have, references to historically accurate events that really happened gives you chills, particularly genetic and scientific research late 30s early 40s with the tingling sensation as to what is going on today in these areas. Brilliant book, definitely worthy of another listen. Five stars from me.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Great Tale, Good Twist

I have to be honest and say I had never heard of Daniel Pembery before so took a chance on this when i saw it. It was worth it for sure, this is a great story, and i really enjoyed it.
Kept me gripped for the time it took to listen to. From quite early on I guessed there would be a twist, but have to confess that when it came.....I was as wrong as could be.

The book flicks easily between two time periods, and the characters are interesting with some interaction with some of the most infamous men in history.

Would certainly recommend.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A very nice surprise.

I thought this would be a time travel detective story but was not disappointed when it became a dual timeline narrative. Nicely told and quite thought provoking. I would have liked more of the war period stuff but I'm not going to quibble. Nicely read too. 5 star

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Good Read

I liked this book and would recommend it. Was not so keen on the German narrator though. His characterisation for me was a bit stereotypical, particularly the nazis, wherein the portrayal was of people sly and somewhat slimy. The nazis were like other people ordinary men capable of extraordinary cruelty and evil. I think it may have been more impactful to portray them us such.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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just couldn't flow with this tale ,for me awkward,

as I've said , just didn't push my buttons , a flow didn't occur , disjointed , not exciting at all .

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Did not quite hang together

The intertwined past/present stories were Interesting and the topic of gene manipulation quite timely in both. The narrator for present was also good, managing American accents without seeming as though his tongue was uncooperative as is often the case with Brits. Did not like the WWII period narrator-- read too many characters as sniveling. What did not hang for me was the conclusion. It seemed to have nothing to do with what had been developed in the WWII story. But maybe I simply missed key clues...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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After a slow start became more interesting

I found the early chapters confusing and couldn't at first get into the story so I went back to the beginning and listened to the first four chapters again and then got the hang of what the book was about. I had to concentrate to keep track of when the narrative was set in the present and when it went back to the years of the second world war: having narrators with different accents helped. In the end it turned out to be a intriguing story and I enjoyed the unexpected ending.

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Ok but could be a lot longer

Good story and well researched. I feel it ended very abruptly and could have gone on. I enjoyed it but the book felt rushed to me.

Also the German narrator was very irritating

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Confusing

I really enjoy this topic but found the characters too similar and poorly defined so there was nothing memorable about them for instant recall (important in an audiobook) and they lacked depth. I had to keep stopping and reminding myself who was JJ, Albrecht, Trudi, Oliver...?
A good plot and idea but it could have been better with character depth...the finale was low key and could have been extraordinary if there had been more of a crescendo other than other a description of a news story by a drone.
Bland.
Sorry.