Spoils of Victory is the second novel in John Connell’s Mason Collins detective series and it’s even better than the first. Set in post-WWII Germany, the novels feature Army criminal investigator Collins, a former Chicago cop with a German-American heritage.
After the serial-killer bloodbath in Ruins of War (our review here), Collins is transferred from Munich to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a small town packed with former Nazis looking to hide out with their wartime loot. The town was relatively undamaged by the war and has established itself as a Bavarian reprieve from the worst of post-war German suffering.
Collins old friend CIC Agent John Winstone claims that he’s uncovered a vast conspiracy involving the black market trade but he’s brutally murdered before he can share is discoveries with Collins.
The novel abandons the serial killer elements from the first novel and dials down the violence. That’s not to stay that the murders aren’t bloody, but the result is a more straight-ahead detective mystery than a man-against-killer psychological showdown.
There’s de-Nazification, a corrupt nightclub run by the US Army and extortion. It’s impossible to read each character’s loyalties and more than a couple are good guys and bad guys at the same time.
Collins once again manages to solve the crime and piss off the brass at the same time. Connelly has an impressive ability to detail the chaos of occupied Germany in the late 1940s and this novel establishes Mason Collins as a character who should be able to support a long series.