BRENNER AND GOD by Wolf Haas

Each issue of Crimespree features over a dozen pages of reviews of the latest crime fiction. From here on out, we will select specific reviews, from the latest issue, to feature online as well. This review appears in issue 47, which shipped earlier this month.

BRENNER AND GOD
Wolf Haas
June 26th 2012
Melville International Crime

Simon Brenner has given up being a detective. Desiring a quieter life, he takes a job as a personal chauffeur to the two-year-old daughter of a construction magnate and an abortion doctor. While he is picking out a chocolate bar for her at the gas station, she disappears from the back seat. Quickly, he decides to take up his old life as a detective and find her himself. Soon he finds himself swimming in a world of pro-life protestors, shady businessmen, politicians, foreign women, and more suspects than he knows what to do with.

The Brenner series is one of the most popular detective series in Germany. This is the first of the books to be translated into English and brought to the US. BRENNER AND GOD keeps you guessing from beginning to end. Just when you start to think you have a handle on things, the book veers off another cliff sending you careening down a whole new path. As all of the pieces begin to come together, the book takes on a whirlwind pace that makes it impossible to set down.

The style of this book is extremely unique. The narrator is treated as a character who is simultaneously at, and somehow, outside the scene. Commonly the narrator tells us to pay attention, look closer at something in the scene, or just asks us rhetorical questions. While this could be distracting, the author masterfully plays with the reader interspersing dark humor and clever asides through the disembodied voice of the book.

As usual, Melville International presents us with a gleaming gem of a novel. Haas’ unique voice and paunchy, middle aged hero are absolutely irresistible. Reading this book feels like flying down the autobahn at top speed in a convertible with a blindfold on. You have no idea how it will end, but you know it’ll be spectacular.

Bryan VanMeter

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