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Melville International Crime, 30 January 2014. ISBN: 978-1-61219-720-3
A few days before Christmas, in the little ski resort of Zell in the
Austrian Tyrol, the bodies of an elderly American couple, Ted and Suzanne
Parsons, are found frozen to death in two separate ski lifts. No-one can
understand why they were left in the ski lifts overnight but as foul play is
not suspected, the police abandon their inquiries so it is left to former
police inspector Simon Brenner now retained by an insurance company to look
into the deaths. If anyone in Zell thinks there is anything untoward about the
deaths, no-one is talking and by the following September Brenner has got
nowhere, nor has he sent in his report to the insurance company. Impasse. And
he is being pestered by the annoying cub reporter Mandl from the local
newspaper for news of some sort, any sort. But then during Brenner's chance
observation of a game of curling (yes, curling, as seen on TV at the Sochi
Winter Olympics) someone suggests Vergolder Anstetter, local rich businessman
and son-in-law of Ted and Suzanne, as the most likely suspect. But Anstetter
was given an alibi by his nephew Lorenz, so when Brenner hears that Lorenz who
has been in jail is due to be released, he prevails upon one of the locals, the
woman known as the Handless Frau, to drive him to the jail only to find when
they get there that Lorenz has already been collected by his uncle Anstetter.
So what did happen on that freezing December night, and how does that tie in
with a terrifying explosion at the petrol station where Lorenz works?
This book is written in a
chatty loquacious style which reminded me, a little, of Damon Runyan. The
solution to the deaths of Ted and Suzanne, which reaches far back into their pasts
and that of Anstetter and the Handless Frau and also that of Lorenz is actually
quite satisfying when you get to it but the reader has to wade through a lot of
playful and deliberate obfuscation, although the book itself is quite short, to
get to it.
The author has written seven
books in the Brenner series which have won prizes while three of them have been
adapted into major German language films. Two other Brenner titles translated
into English by Annie Janusch are Brenner and God and The Bone Man.
Reviewer: Radmila May
Wolf Haas was born December 14, 1960. in Maria Alm am Steinernen Meer, which is
part of the Austrian province of Salzburg.After university he worked as an advertising copywriter. Between 1996
and 2003 he wrote seven detective stories, of which six featured detective
Simon Brenner. Three were made into films: Komn, suber Tod (Come Sweet Death), Silentium!
and Der Knochenmann (The Boneman). He
has won several prizes for his works.