I was fascinated by this book. I must have checked it out the library at least half a dozen times. I wanted to visit Berlin, and travel on a cross-country train, and to visit my grandmother who lived and died in Goa, India. And so I never met her.
I was always thrilled that Emil could identify the stolen money because of the pin marks. Pins played a big role in my environment at home. My mother’s workroom was in the house and her worktable drawer held boxes of pins. Once a week or so, she would use a magnet to collect the pins that had fallen on the floor. She was expert at pinning for fittings, and never pricked her clients. Which is a digression from this book but part of the childhood memories I associate with it.
When I eventually visited Germany at the age of fourteen, and spent part of my summer there, I was intrigued by its sense of order. Perhaps that’s what I also loved about this book, in addition to the characters and the story (because I loved mysteries). My life was chaotic. Nothing about my family was “ordinary.” And there was never any continuous sense of order. Now I understand that most children long for the kind of normal I yearned for, because it gives a child a sense of security among a universe of things not yet learned or known.