When the body of a retired paediatrician is discovered in his weekend house on Lake Starnberg, it seems clear that his death was the result of a robbery gone wrong. But as Inspector Konstantin Dühnfort starts to investigate and details of how the man met his death are revealed, an altogether murkier series of events begins to emerge – one of torture, betrayal and cruelty, of complex sibling relationships and toxic parental ambition. With a family ripping at the seams, will Dühnfort be able to uncover what really happened?
I was excited to read Dead Calm not just because it sounded right up my street but because it would be my first crime novel set in Germany. I am a big fan or Nordic Noir and crime fiction so wondered how this would compare. In a nutshell – really well.
In many ways, it’s similar – it’s dark and gritty – though I have to say German life doesn’t seem quite as structured or controlled. There is much more eating, drinking and seeming to enjoy life here. Not too much though because there is murder afoot and a murderer to be found.
In this case the victim is a respected and semi-retired paediatrician Dr. Heckeroth, who is found rather gruesomely in his lakeside cabin by his son, Albert. Albert was the apple of his eye and chosen child – with the other two (Caroline and Berstram) being ignored for the most part. It’s an interesting and potentially explosive family dynamic which plays out as the investigation progresses and which I think Lohing uses to good effect to bring the story and the characters to life.
They also do a brilliant job with the detective’s, led by Dühnfort and supported by Gina and Alois. Dühnfort and Gina especially are really well drawn, with enough of their personal life to make me like and care for them. Much like my Monday read (Mercy Killing) this was very much a team effort. Dühnfort relies on his instinct a lot but doesn’t go off on his own, working with others to get results. I like this and it is a good change for me and my recent reads where detectives tend to go off on their own.
The story itself is full of twists and turns and I wasn’t sure till close to the end who did it (I was right – yay!). It isn’t the fastest of paced books though. Instead, I would say it was steady. I never lost interest and I never got bored but I didn’t feel the overwhelming urge I have with other books to stay up late or keep turning pages. This might not be a surprise as it runs to nearly 450 pages.
I thought it was well written and well translated. I liked getting to know each character, none of which I didn’t like to a degree (even the bad apples had redeeming features), and learning a little more about life in Munich, which sounds lovely despite the subject matter. I am not sure if this is part of a series or the first in one, but I’ll definitely be looking out for more. Liked it a lot!
Note: I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.