Book to Screen | Babylon Berlin

January 30, 2018, marks the streaming release of Netflix’s latest European import, Babylon Berlin. Based on the best-selling crime novels by Volker Kutscher, the 16-part, two-season series, directed by Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run; Cloud Atlas), is the most expensive German television series ever produced. The ambitious crime drama, set in 1929 Berlin, swept the German TV Awards (the equivalent of the Emmy Awards), garnering four prizes, including the top honor for best drama series. And it’s generating tons of acclaim and buzz in the U.S. media, including stories in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

To coincide with the launch of this series, Picador published the U.S. paperback edition of Babylon Berlin. LJ reviewed the 2017 UK edition:

Kutscher, Volker. Babylon Berlin:
A Gereon Rath Mystery. Sandstone.
May 2017. 518p. tr. from German by
Niall Sellar. ISBN 9781910124970. pap.
$16; ebk. ISBN 9781910124987. MYS
The first book in the internationally acclaimed, award-winning series introduces policeman Gereon Rath, who has transferred to the Berlin vice squad after his homicide experience in Cologne ended badly. It is the tempestuous 1920s in Weimar Germany, and there’s plenty of vice to investigate. When Gereon uncovers a connection to the murder of a man tortured and dumped in the Landweher Canal, he hopes investigating on his own may lead him closer to a vaunted spot in Homicide and closer to Charlotte (Charly) Ritter, a department stenographer. Gereon’s inquiries drag him through the mire of Berlin’s underworld and the chaos of the politics of the period. VERDICT Riveting and atmospheric, this historical crime novel is a good choice for readers who appreciate Philip Kerr’s “Bernie Gunther” mysteries, Paul Grossman’s “Willi Kraus” series, and Rebecca Cantrell’s “Hannah Vogel” books.—Ann Chambers Theis, Henrico Cty. P.L., VA (LJ 4/1/17)

Another tie-in is Titan Comic’s Hard Case Crime comics adaptation of Kutscher’s book. Written and illustrated by Arne Jysch, it will go on sale February 27. Here is a trailer for the Babylon Berlin graphic novel.

For fans of hard-boiled noir and history buffs  fascinated by the tumultuous era of Germany’s  Weimar Republic, there will be plenty of gripping drama to follow in whatever format they choose.


Wilda Williams About Wilda Williams

Wilda "Willy" Williams ( is LJ's Fiction Editor. She specializes in popular fiction and edits the Mystery, Science Fiction, Christian Fiction, and Word on Street Lit columns.

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