Reviewer: JJ Marsh
What we thought: Nika Lubitsch’s Germany-set crime novel is a page-turning adventure that sticks in your mind.
Sybille is on trial for her husband’s murder. While on trial, as witnesses queue up to defame the once-glamorous darling of the society pages, flashbacks tell the story up till now. The structure is reminiscent of Memento, as our central character, and the reader, try to make sense of what has happened. The question also arises, can we trust our narrator?
As her lawyer, Ulli, battles to prove her innocence over six days of legal proceedings, Sybille recalls how she met Michael, their life together and how it all fell apart in such spectacular fashion. The young heady days of falling in love, the resilience of their romance in overcoming obstacles, their joys and triumphs are believable and enjoyable.
So well are Lubitsch’s characters drawn, that you feel you know them as good friends. So when Sybille’s world collapsed, I found myself saying, ‘But how could he? That’s just not like him.’
The clues are expertly woven and the tension increases over this taut, lean thriller till we discover the truth of the tale on the seventh day. The ending is atmospheric and exciting, not to mention brilliantly executed. Unsurprisingly, a Kindle bestseller.
One of my favourite elements of this books was the use of setting. Berlin society comes vividly to life and after I put the book down, I started planning my next mini-break. This is the perfect book for a long train journey, as it’s short enough to devour in one sitting. But woe betide anyone who tries to talk to you before you get to the end.
You’ll enjoy this if you like: Kate Atkinson, Peter James, Mark Billingham.
Avoid if you don’t like: Germany, whodunnits, retro timelines.
Ideal accompaniments: Weissbier, bloodandliverwurst with sweet mustard and Max Richter.
Genre: Crime, In Translation.