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kringenwally

Modern German Crime Fiction

by kringenwally »

These books (the author's only two crime novels, in one volume - he wrote in lots of other genres, see review below) are about as "Swiss-German" from Bern and Zürich as it gets, but from a bygone era just after WWII. Full of local character.

Friedrich Dürrenmatt - The Inspector Bärlach Mysteries:

The Judge and His Hangman 

 

and 

Suspicion

(orig. titles: Der Richter und sein Henker and Der Verdacht)

Translated by Joel Agee

With a Foreword by Sven Birkerts

208 pages | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 | © 2006

Paper $15.00 ISBN: 9780226174440

University of Chicago Press, Published November 2006

 

This volume offers bracing new translations of two precursors to the modern detective novel by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, whose genre-bending mysteries recall the work of Alain Robbe-Grillet and anticipate the postmodern fictions of Paul Auster and other contemporary neo-noir novelists. Both mysteries follow Inspector Barlach as he moves through worlds in which the distinction between crime and justice seems to have vanished. In The Judge and His Hangman, Barlach forgoes the arrest of a murderer in order to manipulate him into killing another, more elusive criminal. And in Suspicion, Barlach pursues a former Nazi doctor by checking into his clinic with the hope of forcing him to reveal himself. The result is two thrillers that bring existential philosophy and the detective genre into dazzling convergence. 

 

Richard Lipez | Washington Post

"Friedrich Dürrenmatt (1921-1990) was best known as the author of clever, morally inquisitive plays such as 'The Visit' and 'The Physicists.' In the early 1950s he also wrote three short, spellbinding mystery novels, which the University of Chicago Press has reissued in paperback with new translations from the German by Joel Agee: The Pledge and The Inspector Barlach Mysteries: The Judge and His Hangman & Suspicion. The latter includes a thoughtful foreword by Sven Birkerts, who praises Dürrenmatt's talent as a captivating entertainer who could also 'play through complex moral issues with a speed-chess decisiveness and inexorability.' . . . These are slender tales. But they have the weight and texture of classics. Mystery readers should be grateful to the University of Chicago Press for bringing these gems back to life."

=====================   Also:  

Heinrich Böll, The Safety Net (Orig. “Fürsorgliche Belagerung”), many English editions from hardcover to paperback - see www.goodreads.com/work/editions/1429304-f-rsorgliche-belagerung

Not a procedural, more a mirror of postwar German society - alienation, moral decay, double existence, constant surveillance, that kind of suspense and mystery.

Böll is one of THE most respected German authors of the post-WWII era.

  Adrienne Mans: On The Shores of Night. 1967, publ Walker  - translated from German   Nele Neuhaus, Snowwhite Must Die. Publ. Minotaur 2013 (an imprint of US Macmillan) - translated from German   And from Iceland: Thora Gudmundsdottir, The Day Is Dark. Publ. Minotaur 2013 (an imprint of US Macmillan) - "Iceland's answer to Stieg Larson"
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PHeymont

RE: Modern German Crime Fiction

by PHeymont »

As I've mentioned, a lot of my travel recently has been shaped by and accompanied by a fascination with crime novels/police procedurals set in different countries, including Italy, France, Iceland and Scandinavia (just read a Mark Lawson piece in the Guardian (UK) that labels that bit "Scandi-noir").

Which has led me to wonder about postwar German crime fiction (or postwar fiction set before or even during the war). Lawson suggests that there is not a lot because the genre inevitably pokes into the past and crimes, and may find itself limited by the connection to, or parallel with, the Nazi past.

In any case: has anyone here some suggestions? Lawson mentions some Durrenmatt novels involving a Swiss detective, but they don't appear to be available in English.

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Joanna

RE: Modern German Crime Fiction

by Joanna »

If I may be so bold as to expand into Eastern Europe, one of my very favorite guys is Olen Steinhauer, an American but who's lived in and written novels set in Eastern Europe.  The first of his I read were the Milo Weaver American spy stories set largely in Europe, that being my preferred genre.  But I ran out of Milo books so decided to give the earlier ones a try.  Enter Detective Emil Brod in 'Bridge of Sighs'.

This from Amazon:  "In this auspicious literary crime debut, an inexperienced homicide detective struggles amid the lawlessness of a post-WWII Eastern European city.  It's August, 1948, three years after the Russians "liberated" this small nation from German Occupation."

Also in a similar time frame, in '36 Yalta Boulevard', "...Brano Sev, an officer and sometimes assassin working for a generic Ministry for State Security headquartered (on Yalta Blvd.) in the Capital of a generic Eastern European satellite of Russia.

And there are more including another protagonist, Comrade Inspector Ferenc Kolyeszar, and all are kind of a spooky take on a scary time in Eastern Europe.  They might be of interest.

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PHeymont

RE: Modern German Crime Fiction

by PHeymont »

Wally...thank you so much for setting such a tasty table, including the Durrenmatts, which I had briefly searched for but not found.

In fact, the only one on the list I've read is Gudmundsdottir, all of whose books we've read and were part of our being drawn to Iceland. One of her books is set in large part in Greenland, by the way...but did not make us want to go there!

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PHeymont

RE: Modern German Crime Fiction

by PHeymont »

Thanks for these suggestions....it seems I'm going to be drifting east from France...far east...in my reading (presently reading a series by Englishman Adrian Magson. The series is set in the early 1960s, and the protagonist in this series is a Paris Inspector transferred to a small country town in a massive bureaucratic shuffle. It is more interesting for village life than police procedure...which is alright.) Hmmm....the parenthetical material far exceeds the containing sentence!

 

In Response to Re: Modern German Crime Fiction:[QUOTE]

If I may be so bold as to expand into Eastern Europe, one of my very favorite guys is Olen Steinhauer, an American but who's lived in and written novels set in Eastern Europe.  The first of his I read were the Milo Weaver American spy stories set largely in Europe, that being my preferred genre.  But I ran out of Milo books so decided to give the earlier ones a try.  Enter Detective Emil Brod in 'Bridge of Sighs'.

This from Amazon:  "In this auspicious literary crime debut, an inexperienced homicide detective struggles amid the lawlessness of a post-WWII Eastern European city.  It's August, 1948, three years after the Russians "liberated" this small nation from German Occupation."

Also in a similar time frame, in '36 Yalta Boulevard', "...Brano Sev, an officer and sometimes assassin working for a generic Ministry for State Security headquartered (on Yalta Blvd.) in the Capital of a generic Eastern European satellite of Russia.

And there are more including another protagonist, Comrade Inspector Ferenc Kolyeszar, and all are kind of a spooky take on a scary time in Eastern Europe.  They might be of interest.


Posted by Joanna[/QUOTE]

 

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Ramblinman

RE: Modern German Crime Fiction

by Ramblinman »

I've tried a few of the recently popular Scandanavian crime novels but was disappointed. The best of the lot I thought were Gunnar Staalesen's Varg Veum novels.   None of them seemed to be nearly as good as the classic Maj Sjöwall/Per Wahlöö Martin Beck novels.  

British author Philip Kerr has written a number of very good detective stories set in or related to the Nazi period in Germany.  I thought If the Dead Rise Not was especially good.

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PHeymont

RE: Modern German Crime Fiction

by PHeymont »

Thanks, Ramblinman

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yostwl

RE: Modern German Crime Fiction

by yostwl »

I second the Philip Kerr series suggestion.  Bernie Gunther is more-or-less your hard-boiled cop/private detective type--a basically moral human being trying to survive in an amoral political/social framework in Germany from the early 1930s on through and past WWII.  He must make moral compromises along the way to survive as he solves various mysteries--not a typical "hero," but quite an interesting character.

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PHeymont

RE: Modern German Crime Fiction

by PHeymont »

Thanks, Ramblinman and yostwl, for the Philip Kerr recommendation. Sounds interesting--what literature can exist without some degree of moral conflict? 

I just grabbed two from the Brooklyn Public Library e-book collection, Field Gray (Bernie Gunther #7) and Dark Matter, subtitled "the private life of Sir Isaac Newton."

 

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