Grüß Gott, meine Damen und Herren! After a two week detour to Edinburgh, I’m rejoining the Crime on A Europass Tour now that the train has arrived in Munich, the city where my love affair with Germany began and where the Weisswurst (white sausage) is delicious and the beer is even better!
Munich is also home to Ferdinand von Schirach, a celebrated defense lawyer IRL who has channelled some of his experience into this anthology of fictionalised cases. The crimes are as varied as they are heinous and, without giving too much away, noone is imprisoned. Not necessarily because of the prosecutor’s incompetence or the defense’s brilliance either. In all cases the guilty party is known and yet sometimes the obstacles to proof are insurmountable and in others natural justice overrules the law.
The viewpoint is unique. Narrated by an anonymous defense lawyer, omniscient through client privilege, these stories give unrestricted access to the background and more importantly, to the tipping point. What turns the law-abiding into the law-breaking? It’s fundamental to Schirach’s narrative that the reader understands the motivation behind the crime and realises that like that apple, in one of the best book covers of the year for me, the criminal is not always rotten to the core, just decaying and shrivelled. Which is not to say that these stories are sentimental in any way. The descriptions are vivid and the prose is matter of fact. Some stories will break your heart (because life sometimes deals a lousy hand) and others will make you wish for a little less detail. Every single one will make you think.