Book Review: City of The Dead by Herbert Lieberman

2172164Title: City of The Dead

Author: Herbert Lieberman

Genre: Thriller, Mystery and Suspense

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 4,5 stars

Purchase: B&N, Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Most cops question the living. But New York City’s Chief Medical Examiner Paul Konig finds his answers among the dead. Now, after a lifetime of strangled whores and mangled corpses, Konig thinks he has seen it all–until he comes up against a series of brutal sex crimes that are carving a bloody path across the battered city.

Piece by piece. he begins to put together a picture of the killer, vowing that this case would be his last. But fate has one final nightmare in store for Paul Konig…forcing him into a desperate race against time to save the beloved daughter he thought was lost forever…and who now may be terror’s next victim.

City of The Dead is one of the grittiest crime novels I’ve read in a while. Paul Konig is Chief Medical Examiner of New York City, which means he spends most of his time with the dead. His job has taken the best of him for many years – his marriage failed, his wife eventually passed away, his daughter won’t speak to him anymore, and overall, he’s lost most of the things he loves. But this new case is particularly gruesome, and Konig vows to solve it, catching the mad man who has committed a series of brutal crimes and carved a bloody path across the city.

But the clearer the picture Konig gets of the killer, the more the last thing he cares for becomes endangered. For his own daughter has been kidnapped, and with every second wasting away, so do his chances of seeing her alive. With political blackmail on the agenda, someone stealing unclaimed corpses, and a murderer to catch, Konig may be up for his toughest days yet.

This book was originally published in the 70’s, and it’s like an early example of Temperance Brennan. Konig is a medical examiner forever scarred by the long list of people he’s seen ending up on his tables. He’s grumpy, old and has a sarcastic sense of humor not everyone can appreciate. He’s a ruthless man as well, the kind of person whose job is everything for him, who will go to the end of the world and beyond to solve a crime. But at the same time, we see him as a man at the end of the line, who is constantly under stress, who hasn’t got a moment of peace, the kind of man urging toward an emotional breakdown. He is flawed, but his flaws make him come to life, turn him into one of the most endaring, intriguing protagonists I’ve seen for a while.

The unique thing about the story is that it isn’t just a murder to solve. There are several cases going on at once, which adds to the urgent feel of the book. When all the cases come together at the end, it feels like a nice closure, and actually made me think about the brilliance of the mind who could conjure so many storylines and then add them neatly together. There’s the kidnapping of Konig’s daughter, the gruesome murders, some other murders, and the cases of political blackmail going on at Konig’s office. We get glimpses of Konig’s past mixed in as well.

Another bonus is that the author doesn’t shy away from giving the readers heartbreak and doesn’t guarantee happy endings for everyone. Just like in the real world. There is also heaps of technical stuff about the world of forensics that I thought was very intriguing to read, and certainly shows the author did his homework.

If you’re a fan of gritty murder mysteries, check out “City of the Dead“. It has amazing writing, one of the best protagonists I’ve come across in a while, and a suspenseful storyline.


  1. This book ‘ City of the dead’ is one of the most amazing books ever written,for those who like reading crime novels. It inspired me to pursue studying forensic science. It was my motivation. I strongly recommend it.

Speak Your Mind