Quick Review (read on for full review)
A complex yet gripping mystery thriller, full of plot twists and turns. I couldn’t put it down. 4 / 5
Summary (from Goodreads)
On a wet November day, Detectives Pia Kirchoff and Oliver von Bodenstein are summoned to the scene of a mysterious accident. A woman has fallen from a bridge onto the motorway below. It seems that she may have been pushed. The investigation leads them to a small town near Frankfurt, and the home of the victim, Rita Cramer.
On a September evening eleven years earlier, two seventeen-year-old girls, Laura and Stefanie (also known as Snow White), vanished without trace from this same village. In a trial based entirely on circumstantial evidence, Stefanie’s boyfriend, handsome and talented, Tobias Sartorius, was sentenced to ten years in prison. He has now returned to his home in an attempt to clear his name. Rita Cramer is his mother.
In the village, Pia and Oliver encounter a wall of silence. But when another young girl goes missing, the events of the past repeat themselves in a disastrous manner. The investigation turns into a dramatic race against time, because for the villagers, there is soon no doubt as to the identity of the perpetrator. And this time they are determined to take matters into their own hands.
Like poisonous lava these words erupted from the depths of him; finally all the bottled disappointment came pouring out.
I didn’t realise until I finished the book that this is the fourth book in the series that stars Kirchhoff and Bodenstein. However, the book works very well as a standalone. I don’t believe I missed out on anything of significance by not starting the series at the beginning.
Every character we come across in this story has a tale to tell. It’s not only the main characters that have the depth of a backstory while everyone else is simply there to move the story along, but, just like in real life, all these personalities, histories and choices weave together to create a fabric of community. And somewhere, in amongst all this, are secrets and truth.
Kirchhoff and Bodenstein are both very interesting, modern characters. Kirchhoff keeps so many animals that she almost lives on a farm, so before her day of investigating crime begins, she’s already been up for hours looking after the animals. As for Bodenstein, his family are land and castle-rich but money poor. Their personal lives are brought with them wherever they go, and this helps them to appear very realistic. What is going on at home isn’t only important when the chapter says they’ve left work behind, so it’s all right for you to flesh out your character. Most people are not like that; and believable characters are not like that either.
There are a lot of characters in this story and it was a little difficult to keep up with who’s who, but that’s my only real problem with the book. I found the story to be gripping and I resented having to put it down when real life said I had others things to do apart from read. I wanted to know what was going to happen next, what the next plot twist would uncover, if the truth would come out before it was too late…
This is my first foray into German crime fiction and I really enjoyed it. I definitely plan to read more of these books. If you enjoy Scandi-Noir, or any other sort of European crime-drama, I recommend Snow White Must Die to you.