I promise this is the last time I will mutter about the hard work associated with reading Les Miserables but by the time I got to the end of book three I was feeling murderous. So perusing the TBR the mood of Snow White Must Die hit the nail on the head.
What a wonderful surprise to find that the book is set in the Taunus region of Hesse, the state I called home for 8 years. Thankfully though I didn’t encounter the small town mentality that prevails in these pages.
Tobias Sartorius has just been released from prison after serving a sentence for the murder of his beautiful girlfriend, nicknamed Snow White and a childhood friend, Laura. While in jail, his parents split up but his father chooses to remain at his once buzzing, now ramshackle and unfrequented village pub and restaurant. Tobias courageously returns home and begins to a restoration project. He is not welcome, his presence stirring up unsavoury memories of the past. The Sartorius family are subjected to a number of vicious attacks which bring the police back to the village. Then another young girl, a outsider who has befriended Tobias, goes missing and it seems as if history is repeating itself ….
I enjoyed this read for many reasons: location, location, location. I booked a summer tour of Hesse as soon as I finished the book, obviously my memories are nowhere near as traumatic as those involved in the narrative. The puzzles involved in uncovering the identity of the real criminals were quite complex and I admired the control Neuhaus displayed keeping the knowledge of reader and police in synch. I did get an inkling just a few pages before the revelations but not sufficiently in advance to spoil the suspense.
I treated myself to the second German Ladythriller once I’d finished Les Mis. Charlotte Link’s The Other Child is set in Scarborough. I’ve been there too, though admittedly only for one day,and I didn’t see much. It was so foggy that I couldn’t see the castle and I was only 50 feet away! So I smiled wryly every time the fog was mentioned. Plus there was a lot of fog plotwise, which, just like the day I got lost in the area, began to clear in the vicinity of Robin Hood’s Bay. Uncanny.
I have to say that the details of British life in this German thriller were very acutely observed, whether that be in descriptions of life in wartime London, on a Yorkshire farm or contemporary life in a northern town. Tobler’s translation is seamless. In fact, I downloaded the German text as I was curious to see how these authentic northern accents had been rendered in German!
There are two murders to solve. Same modus operandi but one murderer or two? As the investigation proceeds, the layers of the thoughtless and indifferent past are uncovered alongside the truly chilling fate of the eponymous other child. I could weep.
I did, however, see through the smoke and mirrors quite early on with regards to both murders. However, a number of really absorbing psychological portraits more than made up for that.
Both Neuhaus and Link are superstars in Germany, having sold millions upon millions of copies between them. These are the first works to be translated into English and I’m delighted there are further translations to appear later this year. A second edition of German Ladythrillers is a dead cert.