Self's Murder, By Bernhard Schlink

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

This gentle, ambling whodunnit belongs to the series of genial private-eye novels in which the author of The Reader enlists his background in the law.

By making his veteran Mannheim detective Gerhard Self – with his dodgy ticker, fondness for a glass, and sharp memories of history – of Third Reich vintage, Schlink ensures a wry perspective on six decades of upheaval. In this slow-burn mystery (translated by Peter Constantine), Self's probe into a crooked private bank at first seems to fit the novel's late-1990s ambience of thuggish Russian mafiosi and gormless eastern Germans in tragic rayon togs. Or does the bank racket hide older crimes? Chugging along more at Trabant than BMW pace, Schlink depicts old codgers West and East buffeted by winds of change.