In Schlink's unremarkable stand-alone thriller, the fortunes of Georg Polger, a German living in France who's struggling to make ends meet as a translator, change after he receives an offer of steady employment translating technical manuals. The naïve Polger doesn't suspect anything untoward about the job, even after learning his employer has paid him to duplicate work already done. When he finds that his new lover, Françoise Kramsky, is covertly photographing confidential plans for a new military helicopter, Polger's search for the truth takes him to pre-9/11 New York City, where the plot goes somewhat off the rails. Schlink fails to make the transformation of his colorless, mild-mannered hero into an action figure convincing. Those looking for a more engaging protagonist will find one in the author's detective series featuring Gerald Self (Self's Murder, etc.).
Gerhard Self, the dour private detective, returns in this riveting crime novel about terrorism, governmental cover-up, and the treacherous waters where they mix.
Leo Salger, the daughter of a powerful Bonn bureaucrat, is missing, and Self has been hired to find her. His investigation initially leads him to a psych ward at a local hospital, where he is made to believe that Leo fell from a window and died. Self soon discovers, however, that Leo is alive and well and that she was involved in a terrorist incident the government is feverishly trying to keep under wraps. The result is a wildly entertaining, superbly nuanced thriller that follows one detective's desire to uncover the truth, wherever it may lead.
Sixty-eight years old; a smoker of Sweet Aftons, a dedicated drinker of Aviateur cocktails, and the owner of a charismatic cat named Turbo, Gerhard Self is an unconventional private detective. When Self is summoned by his long-time friend and rival Korten to investigate several incidents of computer-hacking at a chemicals company, he finds himself dealing with an unfamiliar kind of crime that throws up many challenges. But in his search for the hacker, Self stumbles upon something far more sinister. His investigation eventually unearths dark secrets that have been hidden for decades, and forces Self to confront his own demons.
Gerhard Self, the dour, seventy-something sleuth, is back in a new chapter in the wonderful series of mysteries by the bestselling author of The Reader.
When Gerhard Self happens upon one of the most intriguing cases of his career, he can't resist. From the start, the job is an unusual one: Herr Welker, partial owner of the German bank Weller and Welker desperately wants to write a history of his bank, but he has one problem – a silent partner, whose name does not appear anywhere in the bank's records. Welker wants Self to track this silent partner down. Shortly after he takes the job, Self is accosted by a man who frantically hands him a suitcase full of money and speeds off in a car, only to crash into a tree, dying instantly. Perplexed, but more determined than ever, Self follows the money. Soon he finds himself traveling to eastern Germany – shortly after the fall of communism – battling Nazi youth, and closing in on a money laundering ring with connections to the Russian mafia.
“Arresting, philosophically elegant, morally complex… Mr. Schlink tells this story with marvelous directness and simplicity, his writing stripped bare of any of the standard gimmicks of dramatization.” – The New York Times
“The best novel I read this year… an unforgettable short tale about love, horror and mercy.”
– Neil Ascherson, Independent on Sunday Books of the Year
“Breathtaking… a novel that sucks you in with its power, so that once you start to read, you cannot put it down. Truly exciting.” – Focus Munich
“One of the most successful, one of the richest, one of the most overwhelming novels I have read for a very long time… entirely new and profoundly original.” – Jorge Semprun, Le Journal du Dimanche
“Superb.” – Le Monde
Originally published in Switzerland, and gracefully translated into English by Carol Brown Janeway, The Reader is a brief tale about sex, love, reading, and shame in postwar Germany. Michael Berg is 15 when he begins a long, obsessive affair with Hanna, an enigmatic older woman. He never learns very much about her, and when she disappears one day, he expects never to see her again. But, to his horror, he does. Hanna is a defendant in a trial related to Germany 's Nazi past, and it soon becomes clear that she is guilty of an unspeakable crime. As Michael follows the trial, he struggles with an overwhelming question: What should his generation do with its knowledge of the Holocaust? "We should not believe we can comprehend the incomprehensible, we may not compare the incomparable… Should we only fall silent in revulsion, shame, and guilt? To what purpose?"
The Reader, which won the Boston Book Review's Fisk Fiction Prize, wrestles with many more demons in its few, remarkably lucid pages. What does it mean to love those people-parents, grandparents, even lovers-who committed the worst atrocities the world has ever known? And is any atonement possible through literature? Schlink's prose is clean and pared down, stripped of unnecessary imagery, dialogue, and excess in any form. What remains is an austerely beautiful narrative of the attempt to breach the gap between Germany 's pre- and postwar generations, between the guilty and the innocent, and between words and silence.