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by Wolf Haas ; translated by Annie Janusch

Pub Date: Jan. 28th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-61219-270-3
Publisher: Melville House

A pair of Americans dead on a ski lift provides the case that launched Austrian detective Simon Brenner (The Bone Man, 2013) into his wobbly orbit.

Just because his new supervisor has hastened his departure from the police, that’s no reason Brenner can’t continue to investigate the deaths of elderly Ted Parsons and his wife, Suzanne, aboard the chair lift in the ski resort of Zell. After all, he’s the leading authority on the case, despite his lack of results. So when the Meierling Detective Agency needs someone to provide a report for the wealthy couple’s insurance company, they naturally turn to Brenner. And in less time than it takes to tell it—for everything in Haas’ world, like Tristram Shandy’s, takes much longer to tell than to happen—Brenner is raising questions once more about the alibi Lorenz Antretter supplied for his uncle Vergolder, the Parsons’ son-in-law. Brenner pores over a series of pseudonymous letters outlining the disastrous consequences if the three enormous dams above Zell should break, marvels at the beer-drinking dexterity of a handless German visitor, dodges a pesky reporter from the Pinzgauer Post, lusts after schoolteacher Kati Engljähringer and recalls the time he took police secretary Anni Bichler home five years ago. (Her post-coital verdict: “Frankly, your apartment doesn’t have any atmosphere.”) There’s a serious conspiracy beneath all this tomfoolery, but it’s buried mighty deep, and it’s truly amazing to see Brenner finally put the pieces together, even with the help he gets from an obliging lift operator and a sixth-grade student.

Add a narrator whose rapid-fire monologue piles additional layers of digression atop Brenner’s own circumlocutions, and you have the shaggiest detective currently working the field.