It takes a village to concoct an alibi.
Now that Tobias Sartorius has come home to Altenhain after 10 years in the German prison system for the murders of Stefanie, who threw him over, and her pal Laura, his former girlfriend, much has changed. His parents have divorced, the family cafe has gone out of business and the family home is in such disrepair that no self-respecting rat would live in it. What remains is the enmity of those who will never forgive him for what he did to those teenage girls, whose bodies have never been found. Tobi is shunned, then beaten with bats. And he still has no memory of what he’s done—probably because, as police detectives Oliver von Bodenstein, going through a rocky patch in his marriage, and Pia Kirchhoff, fighting off the legal demolition of her farm, come to realize, he may not have actually done anything. The only villager who believes in him is newcomer Amelie, waitress at the Black Horse, who eavesdrops on conversations that hint at who may have just pushed Tobi’s mother off an overpass, who ambushed him and why they seem to be overly beholden to local nabob Terlinden, whose favors always have a catch. Terlinden’s son Lars used to be Tobi’s best friend. His twin, Thies, an autistic mute, now seems enamored of Amelie and shares his secret paintings with her. Do they implicate the cultural minister in past crimes? Or Tobi’s old pals, including former tomboy Nadia, now a gorgeous cinema star? While Oliver’s marriage crumbles and Pia scrambles to cover his lapses on the job, Amelie disappears, then Thies, and all the village secrets must be uncovered before the innocent can be redeemed.
This emotional page turner, fueled by unexpected plot twists, marks the American debut of Germany’s best-selling suspense writer, whose targets include the bourgeois, the overly solicitous and the rationalizations that lead to tragedy.