What I love about e-books is that they allow me to find Authors from around the world and read their stories. Stories I would never have heard of, or had just been lucky to come across in an Airport bookshop.
The Cleaner by Elisabeth Herrmann came up as a book suggestion following another book I had read. A quick look at Amazon, and Herrmann’s own website, revealed that she is a well published novelist in Germany with many German Edition copies of her books available in the UK, but I think this is the first English copy.
That must change.
This is the story of a child victim of the Cold War, and the adult she became fighting to find out the truth.
1985 and a child is taken to a government run children’s home in East Germany, quickly swallowed by the system she suffers years of institutional abuse, which she extends into her private life as she gets older.
Her name is Judith Kepler, and after struggling with drugs, and self-harming, she gradually gets herself together and becomes a cleaner in the reunified Germany. Her specialism is cleaning crime scenes, moving in after the police and forensic teams have finished an investigation and making the building habitable again.
One such scene see’s Judith cleaning up after the murder of a woman, but she realises that she has a link with this woman and wants to know more.
Her investigations lead her into contact with agents working for the German Security forces, old and new. There is a secret out there that somebody doesn’t want discovering. Old allies are now on different sides, and old allegiances have changed, but this secret has to remain buried.
Who is the woman that was killed in the flat, the investigation leads Judith across Germany and Sweden. Judith’s life is put into danger but it only makes her put more effort into finding the truth.
Because until she finds out the truth, she won’t know who she is, why she was abandoned in the children’s home. One thing is for sure, what she knows now is false.
The book starts in 1985 and stays there for just the first chapter, moving on to the modern day the reader follows Judith’s actions as she fights to find out the truth. An ordinary woman battling against the power of agents from agencies with a profound interest in keeping the secret in the past.
As she digs deeper she begins to uncover a story of treason and double cross. She needs to know what would have set the wheels in motion that left her in the home; and what was worth so much, that so much subterfuge was used to hide the past
The characters in this book are good, and believable. Judith is one of us, and acting like one of us. She has no secret skills, she is no super hero, she is just getting on with life when things take a vicious turn. You will love her.
People who have read Marnie Riches’ the Girl Who……… series will love this book.
People who have read Ludlum at his best will love this book.
People who are looking for a new thriller author in the UK, this is your woman.
Most of all, anybody who likes a good story, will love this book.