Critique of Criminal Reason

Critique of Criminal Reason

Book - 2006
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"Most honourable Procurator Stiffeniis, "
" You talents have been brought to Our attention by a gentleman of eminence, who believes that you alone are capable of resolving a situation which holds Our beloved Konigsberg in a grip of terror. All Our faith and consideration are due to the notable personage who suggested your name, and that same faith and consideration now resides in you. We have no reason to doubt that you will accept this Royal Commission, and act accordingly with all haste. The fate of the city lies in your hands."
--King Frederick Wilhelm III

It has been years since Immanuel Kant's landmark philosophical work, "Critique of Pure Reason, "brought him fame throughout Europe and made him Konigsberg's best-known citizen. Now, rumors have begun to surface of a new work by this aging but still acute mind. Yet unlike his earlier work, this book will not examine the mind of the average man, but the mind of the serial killer.
Hanno Stiffeniis, a young magistrate, has been called to Konigsberg to assist in the investigation of an enigmatic string of murders. Is it part of a plot formed by Napoleon's spies to undermine the Prussian king or the work of a solitary, unknown killer? The case would seem unsolvable, were it not for the assistance and unmatched intellect of his mentor, Immanuel Kant. Together Stiffeniis and the elderly, eccentric philosopher must track down the killer who has the city of Konigsberg by the throat.
Hugely atmospheric, entertaining, and intelligent, "Critique of Criminal Reason "marks the outstanding debut of a new name in historical fiction. "
Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Minotaur, 2006.
Edition: 1st U.S. ed.
ISBN: 9780312349943
0312349947
Branch Call Number: GRE
Characteristics: 395 p.

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Eosos
Jun 05, 2014

The setting for this book is what made me check it out of the library. I had never seen a historical fiction set in Prussia and while I’ve never really looked for one, it seemed like such a good location for a mystery that I decided to give it a try.

The year is 1804 and Hanno Stiffeniis, a young magistrate, is summoned to Königsberg to take over the investigation of a series of murders that is paralyzing the city. With the help of his mentor, Immanuel Kant and his new scientific process of solving crimes, Hanno must stop the murderer.

This book is melodramatic with a bit of gothic thrown in for good measure. The descriptions of torture, death and prisons were dripping with gothic atmosphere and the descriptions of the city and people were often quite sensational. Our hero was depressingly inept and his mentor was disturbingly bizarre. The murder mystery was disappointingly simple and predictable. There were two things that kept this from being a 1 star book for me and that was the descriptions of the beginnings of forensic science and the city itself. Both interesting aspects of the story but unfortunately not enough to make it good.

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Norman C. Smith
May 20, 2013

This book annoyed me by its verbosity and florid prose. Any book that includes the line, "The sights I saw in Konigsberg will haunt me for the remainder of my days on earth" is, in my opinion, going to be trouble. But, leaving that aside, I also dislike any book where a great deal of the suspense arises from one character refusing to answer another's questions. If you like books by Elmore Leonard, skip this book. If you liked "The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostova, you might (no guarantee) also like this.

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