Tuesday, February 23, 2016

New German crime fiction

By Tracy

I am three-quarters of the way through reading a new German crime title, Schreie im Nebel (lit. Screams or Cries in the Fog), by Tina Schlegel. It's her first crime novel, and is tagged as a "Bodensee Krimi" -- the Bodensee being what we call Lake Constance in English, and the novel's setting.

Apparently regional crime novels (Regionalkrimi or simply Regiokrimi) are big in Germany -- I happened on this one because it was newly out and available in my nearest bookshop. The Bodensee is in this region, so I thought it could be interesting.

Imagine my surprise on discovering that the main character, the detective Paul Sito, was a vegan.

I don't think I have ever come across a vegan protagonist in a novel before.

Not being a fan of novels about serial killing, especially when they're gory, I am nonetheless intrigued to see the way in which Schlegel has brought discourses about animal rights, violence and crime together in this story.

There's also the question of the way place is affected by the underlying (sometimes not so underlying) twentieth-century history of specific violence. Some aspects of this, though not with reference to Schlegel's book because it's just new, are addressed in the book of essays, Tatort Germany: The Curious Case of German-Language Crime Fiction, edited by Lynn M. Kutch and Todd Herzog.

Browsing through it, I discovered that Germany has a police-procedural crime fiction series that's been running since 1970 -- also called Tatort (which means "crime scene"). And I thought The Bill was long-running! The Bill, however, was largely focussed on one place, with only occasional forays elsewhere (as far as I ever saw) -- whereas the German series relies on regional difference in each story.

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