Broken Glass – Book Review

Nik Pohl Thriller Book 1 by Alexander Hartung
Translated by: Fiona Beaton
Published on: November 1, 2019

A gritty police procedural thriller I picked as my October Amazon First Reads selection. Originally published in German, it has now been translated to English by Fiona Beaton.


Detective Nik Pohl has seen every shade of darkness in his career. Not used to playing by the rules, he finds himself frozen out by his superiors. What’s worse, now he’s being blackmailed by a shadowy businessman into investigating a seemingly crimeless disappearance.

A young woman, Viola, left her home months ago, leaving a letter to her parents saying she wouldn’t be coming back. With a little digging Nik discovers the case of an almost identical-looking woman, who went missing in similar circumstances. There’s one important difference: that woman is dead. Viola may still be alive… but perhaps not for much longer.

When Nik is viciously attacked, it becomes clear that whoever is behind Viola’s disappearance has some high-level connections, and they will stop at nothing to shut him down. But he’s in too deep and the clock is ticking. He has to find Viola, and her captors, before it’s too late.


Over the last several years I’ve noticed how more and more detective stories involve protagonists that have a dark side they are fighting against. They are jaded, wounded, and restless. Perhaps it is from a childhood trauma or incident or perhaps it is from too many years on the job that have made them a bit weathered in how they think, react, and deal (or don’t deal) with emotional pain. In Broken Glass, Nik Pohl is no exception. He is literally on his last chance as a Munich CID detective. He’s got an unkempt appearance that almost screams how little he cares about life at the moment and how little control he feels he has. In fact, he carries a cyanide pill with him for that moment when it all becomes a bit too much for him. But even though he is completely burned-out and probably in need of a very long vacation the one thing he does have truly going for him is his tenaciousness in investigating mysteries and crimes. So when Nik is blackmailed into investigating the disappearance of Viola Rohe, he does the only thing he knows how to do – he digs in.

I found the story to be a good first start to a new series. Nik clearly has issues, but as I read the book I sensed how the author was very slowly trying to shape and navigate Nik into the world of the living – to where he cares about life again. There is quite a bit of growth and potential in Nik and in the series. I’m still working through my own thoughts on the supporting characters. I’m not sure how plausible I found some of them and their circumstances, but I didn’t dislike them. My favorite support character has to be Balthasar von den Auenfelden. He’s what I would call a scene-stealer in the book – I found him half crazy, half funny, and enjoyed every scene more when he was in the picture.

Overall, if you’re like me and trying to decide which book to select in the Amazon First Reads, I’d give this one a chance. It does have some gritty/dark moments so if you’re looking for a light and fluffy mystery/thriller it’s probably not your best option. However, I also have read other books that are far grittier and darker than this one. Books that were too dark for me to read and I had to put down. This is not that type of book, so I guess you can say it is on the lighter side of dark.

Rating: 4 stars

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