Author: Ferdinand von Schirach, 2011. Translated by Anthea Bell, 2012.
Genre: Legal Thriller.
Other Details: Hardback. 190 pages.
A murder. A murderer. No motif.
For thirty-four years Fabrizio Collini has worked diligently for Mercedes Benz. He is a quiet and respectable person until the day he visits one of Berlin's most luxurious hotels and kills an innocent man. Young attorney Caspar Leinen takes the case. Getting Collini a not-guilty verdict would make his name. But too late he discovers that Collini's victim - an industrialist of some renown - is known to him. Now Leinen is caught in a professional and personal dilemma.
Collini admits the murder but won't say why he did it, forcing Leinen to defend a man who won't put up a defence. And worse, a close friend and relation of the victim insists that he give up the case. His reputation, his career and this friendship are all at risk. Then he makes a discovery that goes way beyond his own petty concerns and exposes a terrible and deadly truth at the heart of German justice . . . - synopsis from UK publisher's website.
Ferdinand von Schirach, one of Germany's most prominent defence lawyers, here weaves a powerful courtroom drama that I found highly engaging and thought-provoking. His style is very lean, which works well given the legal context. This was a very different kind of crime thriller to the Hamburg-set 'Blood Eagle' that I recently read though both novels explore in their own way the legacy of WWII upon the German psyche. This novel played a part in the German Ministry of Justice setting up of a committee to look into how aspects of the past impact upon the current German legal system.
The novel was selected by one of my reading groups but due to my taking a wrong turn and getting very lost, I came late to the meeting and missed the main discussion. However, everyone present reported that they were impressed by the novel especially its historical aspects.