Saturday 18 June 2022



It is the end of October, the city of Basel is grey and wet. It could be December. It is just after midnight when Police Inspector Peter Hunkeler, on his way home and slightly worse for wear, spots old man Hardy sitting on a bench under a street light. He wants to smoke a cigarette with him, but the usually very loquacious Hardy is silent—his throat a gaping wound. Turns out he was first strangled, then his left earlobe slit, his diamond stud stolen. The media and the police come quickly to the same conclusion: Hardy’s murder was the work of a gang of Albanian drug smugglers. But for Hunkeler that seems too obvious. Hardy’s murder has much in common with the case of Barbara Amsler, a prostitute also found killed, with an ear slit and pearl stud missing. He follows his own intuition and the trail leads him deep into an edgy world of bars, bordellos and strip clubs, but also into the corrupt core of some of Basel’s political and industrial elite. More ominously, he will soon discover the consequences of certain events in recent Swiss history that those in power would prefer to keep far from the public eye.

The Basel Killings is the first in the author's Peter Hunkeler detective series. Silver Pebbles, also available in translation from Bitter Lemon Press followed it earlier this year.

Sad to say, having read it four months ago, it's been pretty much forgotten. That's more a me problem, than a Schneider or book problem. 

What do I remember of it then? 

It's quite pedestrian in pace, but not a boring slow, just a kind of thoughful we'll get there when we get there way. It's a murder investigation. I'm pretty sure I enjoyed it and I'm keen to read the second. I liked the atmosphere of the setting, with the time spend in the bars adjacent to the murder and the speculation among the victim's friends over what happened. Hunkeler pretty much drives the investigation and we have time for some personal detail in addition to the working of the case. His girlfriend/partner has left town with work, but he/she/they aren't sure when or if she will be back and what the future holds for them.

Towards the end, a light is shed on some horrendous historic abuses of authority towards gypsies and Romany people. These actually occurred, though I was unaware of them. The Swiss Government apologised in 2008 for it's treatment of Roma people, and the forced removal of children from their families, a policy which only ended in 1972. 

The book 3.5 from 5. 1 from 5 for the garbled drivel that constitutes a review. 

Read - February, 2022

Published - 2021 in translation (2004 originally)

Page count - 188

Source - Edelweiss - Above the Treeline

Format - Kindle


  1. The atmosphere of this one does sound appealing, Col - really appealing. And it sounds like an interesting mystery. I do know what you mean, though, about a story that might be good, but just doesn't stay with you. I've read my shore of those, too! Glad you found some things to like.

    1. Margot, I think you might enjoy this one, if you ever find the time. I'm looking forward to enjoying the next one in the series.