25 Jun 2020


ISBN 978-0571229284

'The sights I saw in Königsberg will haunt me for the remainder of my days on earth...'

At the dawn of Enlightenment, criminal justice was evolving into a science. In this brilliant historical detective work, one of the great philosophers, Immanuel Kant, guides Hanno Stiffeniis, a young magistrate, as he investigates a spate of murders that has reduced the Prussian city of Königsberg to a state of terror.

When the killer tries to murder him, Stiffeniis finds himself confronted by the demons of his own past. Therein lies the sinister source of those murders, and the true reason he has been enticed back to Königsberg.
- Back Cover Blurb

'Observe, Stiffeniis. It slid like a hot knife cutting lard.'
- First Sentence, 'A False Start'

'But what would be the charge, Sergeant? Witchcraft?' I interrupted him angrily. ' Because the woman claims to invoke the Devil? Not so very long ago, an accusation such as yours would have lit a raging bonfire beneath her. If I am going to accuse Anna Rostova of anything at all - even trafficking with the Devil - I need to be quite certain in my own mind what it is.'
- Memorable Moment' Page 218

MY THOUGHTS ... Though a fan of historical fiction I can't say my reading has ever taken me to the Prussia of the early nineteenth century.

Wonderfully atmospheric; dark and brooding. I know its a bit of a cliche but the sights, the smells, the sounds, all wonderfully captured. The fear that  paralyses the city palpable.

As for the characters? Hmm! What to say about the characters?

With a hypocritical, somewhat prudish protagonist at the helm (don't worry, if you are anything like me, come the end of the book Stiffeniis will have kind of grown on you), a lusty albino abortionist, a fur-clad cannibal, a paranoid general  and a woman (a witch?) who may or may not be in league with the very Devil himself (I'll leave that for you to discover for yourself) - oh and one of the world's foremost thinkers  (though to be fair Immanuel Kant doesn't feature in the book a lot) - I think it fair to say the characters are quirky.

As much as I enjoyed the 'murder mystery' and historical elements of the book, what really made the book for me was that, commonly solved by means of threats and torture, the reporting of any crime, lacking in logic at best and none existent at worst,  Critique Of Criminal Reason features the beginning of modern day crime techniques to solve the mystery of just who was committing these grisly killings.

The first book in the Hanno Stifeniis series, written by husband and wife team Michael G. Jacob and Daniela De Gregorio under the pseudonym of Michael Gregorio which probably explains why at times I sensed a subtle difference in the tone and style of writing.

SUMMED UP IN A SENTENCE ... Not what I'd describe as your typical traditional mystery, if your looking for something that bit different in Critique Of Criminal Reason you may well have found it.

Read an extract here.

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Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Felicity,

I have just started reading a book which combines traditional mystery with a slightly quirky and unique edge to it, so if you enjoyed the 'Gregorio' you might like this one.


I probably wouldn't have picked the 'Gregorio' up if I hadn't read your excellent take on it first and I'm probably still not 100% convinced, but I am going to give it a go!

I hope that you are keeping well and staying safely lockdown in all this madness out there :)


Kelly said...

Like Yvonne, I'm not sure I would have looked twice at this before I read your excellent review. Now I'm off to check it out more closely and, perhaps, add it to my wish list. Thanks for a very good review!

Brian Joseph said...

The derp connections to Kant seem interesting and very unusual. Kant was such an important thinker. With that, I sometimes become a little uncomfortable when real historical figures are weaved into fiction like this.

Suko said...

This sounds intriguing, Felicity. I like that it is an atypical mystery. Wonderful review, as usual!

Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer said...

I love the setting! This sounds addictive.

Gina said...

Hmm...I read some Historical Fiction, but it tends more on the romance side of things. Alas, my mystery and crime fiction reading days are (for the most part) behind me. Still...the characters certainly make it sound entertaining!

DMS said...

Hmm- This does sound interesting after reading your review. How cool that it is written by a husband and wife team. The characters have me very curious and I don't think I have read anything from that time period (and I do enjoy HF). Thanks for sharing!

nightwingsraven said...

An atypical mystery featuring
quirky characters definitely
sounds interesting. And I will
keep it in mind. And thank you
for your excellent review.

Sherry Ellis said...

Those are definitely some interesting characters!

Literary Feline said...

Another one to add to my wish list. Thank you for the recommendation, Felicity!