Thursday 7 June 2018


Another six from the stacks of the unread and a half dozen from Germany.....

Julie Zeh, Dan Vyleta, Zoran Drvenkar, Nele Neuhaus, Ferdinand Von Shirach and Hans Keilson

Zoran Drvenkar - Sorry (2011)
My wife read and enjoyed this one a few years ago, but I haven't gotten around to it yet!

Four friends, all approaching their thirties, are plumb out of luck in Zoran Drvenkar's electric thriller. Kris, an aspiring journalist, has just been fired. Tamara has just given up custody of her daughter to her former lover. Wolf's girlfriend died of an overdose. And Frauke's mother has been committed to an asylum. They're a disaffected band of losers, until one drunken evening when they hatch an improbable idea: everyone behaves deplorably to someone without apologizing, so why not start an agency that does the apologizing for them?

The agency, called Sorry, becomes a runaway success. Working with corporations that have mistreated employees and businessmen who have wronged others, Sorry visits injured party after injured party offering the right apology and the right financial compensation. And it's not long before the friends are living the good life. But it all crashes to a halt the day Wolf visits a new client and finds her gruesomely murdered.

What follows is a sequence of horrific events, an intense, brutal game of cat and mouse in which the meaning of 'sorry' is taken to its most extreme.

Julie Zeh - Eagles and Angels (2003)

Bought on spec to assist with a crime fiction alphabet challenge - Markus Zusak and Dave Zeltserman weren't enough on their own!

Jessie is dead. She shot herself while on the phone with Max. And now grief-stricken Max, a UN lawyer, is forced to reevaluate everything about their relationship - including what Jessie, a drug dealer's daughter, was hiding. Embroiled with the drama of the Balkan drug trade and the shortcomings of international law, Eagles and Angels is a sophisticated riddle of a novel where mass murderers and civil war heroes exist in a bizarre symbiosis, and where nothing is as it appears. Wunderkind author Julie Zeh is the winner of the German Book Award and the Bremen Forder and the Rauriser Literature Prizes.

Nele Neuhaus - Snow White Must Die (2013)

Another impulse buy after seeing a few rave reviews about it.

On a rainy November day police detectives Pia Kirchhoff and Oliver von Bodenstein are summoned to a mysterious traffic accident: A woman has fallen from a pedestrian bridge onto a car driving underneath. According to a witness, the woman may have been pushed. The investigation leads Pia and Oliver to a small village, and the home of the victim, Rita Cramer.

On a September evening eleven years earlier, two seventeen-year-old girls vanished from the village without a trace. In a trial based only on circumstantial evidence, twenty-year-old Tobias Sartorius, Rita Cramer's son, was sentenced to ten years in prison. Bodenstein and Kirchhoff discover that Tobias, after serving his sentence, has now returned to his home town. Did the attack on his mother have something to do with his return?

In the village, Pia and Oliver encounter a wall of silence. When another young girl disappears, the events of the past seem to be repeating themselves in a disastrous manner. The investigation turns into a race against time, because for the villagers it is soon clear who the perpetrator is - and this time they are determined to take matters into their own hands.

An atmospheric, character-driven and suspenseful mystery set in a small town that could be anywhere, dealing with issues of gossip, power, and keeping up appearances.

Ferdinand Von Shirach - The Collini Case (2012)

Another one that has received high praise from most who have read it.

From one of Europe's bestselling writers comes a spellbinding and utterly compelling court room drama, which will stay with you for a long time. Ferdinand von Schirach's The Collini Case has been at the top of the German charts since publication and will be loved by all fans of Bernhard Schlink and John le Carre

A murder. A murderer. No motif.

For thirty-four years Fabrizio Collini has worked diligently for Mercedes Benz. He is a quiet and respectable person until the day he visits one of Berlin's most luxurious hotels and kills an innocent man.

Young attorney Caspar Leinen takes the case. Getting Collini a not-guilty verdict would make his name. But too late he discovers that Collini's victim - an industrialist of some renown - is known to him.

Now Leinen is caught in a professional and personal dilemma. Collini admits the murder but won't say why he did it, forcing Leinen to defend a man who won't put up a defence. And worse, a close friend and relation of the victim insists that he give up the case. His reputation, his career and this friendship are all at risk.

Dan Vyleta - Pavel & I (2008)

A dash of espionage in post-WW2 Berlin

Set during the winter of 1946, one of the coldest on record, "Pavel and I" mines post-war Berlin's messy terrain through the lives of two characters: Pavel, an American soldier who stays on after the war, and Anders, a German orphan. Their paths cross when an ailing Pavel seeks medicine on the black market for his failing kidneys. Anders follows Pavel home with thoughts of stealing from him, but ultimately stays on to help nurse him back to health. A friendship of mutual need and genuine tenderness develops. When a dead Russian spy is delivered to Pavel's frozen apartment, Pavel and Anders find themselves caught in the beginnings of a Cold War conspiracy of epic proportions. Complete with a secret love affair between Pavel and the German mistress of a menacing British military official, and peopled with pimps, prostitutes, Russian and English spies and a Lord-of-the-Flies-style gang of child thieves, "Pavel and I" is a unique, breathtaking noir novel.

Hans Keilson - The Death of the Adversary (1959)

Loved his book - Comedy in a Minor Key - on the blog here.

Written while Hans Keilson was in hiding during World War II and first published in 1959, The Death of the Adversary is the self-portrait of a young man helplessly fascinated - obsessed - by an unnamed 'adversary,' whom he watches rise to power in 1930s Germany. It is a tale of horror, not only in its evocation of Hitler's gathering menace but in its hero's desperate attempt to discover logic where none exists. A psychological fable as haunting as Badenheim 1939, The Death of the Adversary is a lost classic of modern fiction.


  1. You've got some good choices there, Col. I'm especially interested in what you'll think of Sorry, Snow White..., and The Collini Case<. In my opinion, all good 'uns.

    1. Margot, I think you've mentioned Sorry on your blog before and the Collini more than once! Looking forward to them one day!

  2. Another really useful post for us fans of crime fiction in translation -- many thanks!

    1. I'm looking forward to seeing some German reviews from you John.

  3. Really interesting collection here. I'm one of the people who liked the Collini Case, and I also loved Comedy in a Minor Key, so would be up for reading more by him. And the others sound intriguing too, Sorry, and Snow White and spies... when I saw your theme I thought there might not be much to pull me in, but I couldn't have been more wrong!

    1. Ha, mission accomplished. I just need to convince myself to read some now!

  4. Col – I am almost sorry to read that SORRY turns into a murder mystery. Just the idea of an apology service has all kinds of comic-novel possibilities.

    1. I'll let you know how it turns out when I get to it.

  5. I liked the Collini Case a lot. I have heard a lot about Snow White Must Die but haven't decided whether to get it or not. Looking forward to hearing what you think about all these books.

    1. Thanks Tracy. SORRY and the Collini are probably the closest two to the top of the pile. The pile does keep getting shuffled around though.