Translated by Baida Dar

With pseudonyms in the news, I offer you a pseudonymous German thriller. The authors’ identities were never secret as the German publishing house originally planned to publish using their real names. For the record Stefan and Andreas Lebert, journalists and brothers.

I know nothing more about them other than their first novel is intelligent and pacy and just a little bit grisly in parts.  I certainly turned the pages quickly (and not just because I wanted to finish the book before my plane landed!)

Max Tretjak is a fixer.  This means that other people pay him to sort out their problems.  A wife wishes to divorce her husband but hasn’t got the courage  to tell him herself.  Send in Max who will not only deliver the message but will ensure the settlement and deliver the package that is her future life as well.  His powers of persuasion are second to none, especially when, with homework completed, he knows something that proves to have irresistible bargaining power.  This job means that he has collected many secrets, many contacts and, inevitably, a few enemies.  He needs to watch his back and pay heed to the skeletons in his own closet, particularly when many of his former colleagues turn up dead in a series of murders that put his name centre frame.

Curiously though Max is somewhat detached from his own life..  A firm believer in the ability to walk away from the past and start over, he gives it not a moment’s thought beyond philosophising with a variety of psychologists and psychiatrists.  But can the past, in particular his own not always glorious one, be expunged? Can the future be fixed so simply? The events in these pages certainly challenge his core beliefs.

They challenge the reader too, particularly as there isn’t a sympathetic character to be found.  I certainly don’t like Tretjak as a man, as a son, as a lover.  He can be careless of others.  Then again, neither do I like his father or his girlfriend.  But I did enjoy the plot and though I guessed the outcome (a question of pin-pointing the moment when Tretjak, the detail-obsessed fixer, misses a trick),  I do recommend you pack this in your suitcase for an entertaining holiday read.

Not only will you be packing a great summer read, you’ll be helping me out. I might not like the man but I do want to know what happens to him next.  And for that to happen, this must sell in sufficient quantities to merit the commissioning of the sequel’s translation …