Posts tagged ‘Friedrich Durrenmatt’

August 5, 2017

Suspicion by Friedrich Dürrenmatt

by Team Riverside

Paperback, Pushkin Vertigo, £4.99, out nowFriedrich Durrenmatt SUSPICION

The dying police inspector Barlach thinks that a surgeon practising in Switzerland may be a Nazi war criminal.  He gets himself transferred from his friend’s hospital in Bern to the suspect’s institution, and a new kind of nightmare begins.

This superb and unusual mystery novel, first published in 1951/2, has been reprinted now by Pushkin Vertigo, an imprint republishing quality crime fiction of the 20th century.  The publisher says Suspicion is “a genre-bending mystery recalling the work of Alain Robbe-Grillet and anticipating the postmodern fictions of Paul Auster and other contemporary neo-noir novelists.”  (See https://www.pushkinpress.com/product/suspicion/).   I found it easy to read, but it also engages with the highly challenging subject matter in a thoughtful and interesting way.  Dürrenmatt is not afraid of taking an intellectual and moral stance, which is important when dealing with torture and crimes against humanity.

Suspicion is beautifully written and translated.  Dürrenmatt was also a playwright, with The Physicists being his most famous work.  Despite the subject matter, this book is a perfect short holiday or travel read, and I would particularly recommend it to fans of Simenon or Lionel Davidson.  I have already ordered all the other Inspector Barlach books that I can find.  A new addiction has been born.

Review by Bethan

October 21, 2012

Foreign Bodies

by Andre

To echo this week’s triumphant Booker speech by Hilary Mantel, you wait years for a Riverside blog on foreign crime fiction and then two turn up at once. But Radio 4’s scrutiny of European literary detectives in the weeks ahead cannot go unmentioned, and the station’s dramatisation of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo’s series featuring detective Martin Beck is likely to create huge demand for these exemplary crime novels set in Stockholm. Between 1965 and 1975, the husband and wife writing duo published 10 captivating police procedurals that also held up a mirror to Swedish society and clearly influenced fellow Swede Henning Mankell.

The accompanying 15-part series Foreign Bodies is a typically ambitious Radio 4 project. It might have the alarmingly portentous subtitle ‘A History Of Modern Europe Through Literary Detectives’ but we should be in safe hands with presenter Mark Lawson, who regularly recommends continental crime writers on Front Row. The series will show how crime fiction reflects society’s tensions across Europe by focusing on popular detectives (Mankell’s Kurt Wallander, Nesbo’s Harry Hole and Camilleri’s Salvo Montalbano) and venerable literary creations such as Maigret and Poirot, as well as introducing genre-bending crime authors Friedrich Durrenmatt and Nicolas Freeling.

The Martin Beck series starts at 2.30pm on 27 October and Foreign Bodies begins on 22 October at 1.45pm (and available on iPlayer Radio).