‘Madness alone was lord of all this land.’
😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
We know from the beginning that Collini is guilty of a horrific murder, but we don’t know his motive. It seems there can be no justification that would make his actions understandable let alone forgivable. Young defence lawyer Casper Leinen has to solve the riddle of the motive without the help of his client who seems to be completely fatalistic about the outcome of the trial.
The first half of the book concentrates on the story of Leinen’s youth and his friendship with the grandson of the future murder victim. We see the old man as a family man and a kind mentor to the youthful Leinen making his subsequent murder even more incomprehensible. The second half of the book concentrates on the trial and takes place partly in the courtroom and partly in flashback to Collini’s boyhood. The last 60 pages or so are intense, shocking and deeply moving and more than make up for the rather slower pace of the earlier part of the novel. Turning on a little-known legal point, the author’s anger shows through as he considers Germany’s war-time past and how attitudes to guilt and innocence have changed over the last few decades.
Well written and well translated, von Schirach is facing some of his personal history in this book. The Guardian tells us:
‘His grandfather was Baldur von Schirach, a Nazi who headed the Hitler Youth and was eventually sentenced to 20 years for crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg war trials…Now he has decided to publicly confront his ancestry in his work by including a character based on his grandfather in his latest book.’
This background only adds to the intense and powerful effect of this book, which is far more than just another courtroom story – highly recommended.
José Ignacio over at The Game’s Afoot alerted us that this book has just been shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger. You can see the rest of the shortlisted books at his post here.
NB This book was provided for review by Amazon Vine UK.