Translated from German by Jamie Searle Romanelli and Stefan Scholtz
When I found out that Ursula Poznanski, who uses the pen name Ursula Archer for her adult thrillers, had teamed up with Arno Strobel to co-write a thriller, my first thought was have I found the German-lit Nicci French, a husband and wife team who write alternate chapters of their books. Now Poznanski (sorry Archer) and Strobel are not married to each other, but this novel certainly feels as though it has been written in similar fashion. (And with one eye on the translators, translated that way too.) There’s a leading pair who narrate alternate chapters. The thing is they start from very different places ….
Joanna is living on her own. One evening she is confronted by a stranger, who claims to be her live-in fiancé. Thing is she has no memories of him, and there isn’t a single trace of him in her flat. And yet he knows so much about her. She is truly terrified ….
Erik tells a different story. Coming home from a long day at work, he arrives to find his fiancée turning hysterical and barricading herself behind a door at the sight of him. What on earth has happened and how can the situation be rectified?
Verification from third parties is sought and Erik’s story appears to be true. But what has happened to Joanna’s memory? Everything else is intact. Not that she believes his story, nor the corroboration of her best friend. It could all be a plot. Things turn ever more mysterious when near fatal accidents start to occur. One threatens Joanna’s life. Others threaten Erik’s. The pair realise that neither is safe and they must flee.
Joanna with a man she does not know, Erik with a woman who has shown a propensity to attack him with sharp instruments ….
The rebuilding of trust between the two is a gradual and as satisfying as their solving the riddle of their fractured existence. The plot thickens at every turn, escalating from domestic drama to a high-octane heart-pounding political thriller. With psychopathic baddies deserving of the mnemonic.
I’m not saying anything more. I loved it even if I worked out what was going on with Joanna early on. Turned the 314 pages in one day. I had only one gripe. Why did my beloved Munich have to bear the brunt of it?