German author Neuhaus is making news with the first English translation of a police procedural that will surprise readers and introduce them to a new detective duo to follow.

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Actually the second in the series, the international best seller features Detective Oliver von Bodenstein, troubled and distinctive, and his partner, Pia Kirchhoff. In this first US import, the Grimm fairy tale describing Snow White becomes a refrain to the story Neuhaus tells of 30-year old Tobias Sartorius. It opens as he leaves prison after serving ten years following the disappearance of two teenaged girls last seen in his company. Having no recollection of most of the events of the evening, his time in prison has been tortuous as he’s come to accept he must have murdered the two girls, despite having no memory of the night in question.

Of the two missing girls, the dark-haired Stefanie Schneeberger had been cast to play Snow White in the local play. On the night the girls disappeared, she was supposed to have broken off her dating relationship with Tobias.

Returning to his small home town, Tobias is shocked to learn the pretense his parents maintained while he imprisoned. They’ve lost their business and separated, and while his father still lives on in the same house, the town has made the family pay for what they feel is Tobias’ murder of the two missing girls by outcasting his parents and damaging their property, with continued harassment.

When Tobias’ mother is pushed from a pedestrian bridge onto the hood of a car below, the two detectives investigation is met with stony silence from the villagers. Then a young girl disappears, and the past seems to be repeating itself. With the villagers certain Tobias is to blame, his life hangs in jeopardy as the Oliver and Pia race against time to find the truth before the villagers take matters into their own hands.

This is lively nuanced mystery, with increasing suspense, and well-crafted characters. The effects of gossip, the use of local power, and the idea of keeping up appearances for outsiders will all be explored, even as Oliver and Pia have their own domestic issues barging into their hectic days. The novel is surprising at times as the events kick up and the pace surges ahead. Readers will become addicted to turning pages as the story engages them. Neuhaus lets them in early on a secret to that they have more information than the detectives, a device which serves to nicely up the suspense factor.

The well-drafted thriller will allow readers to see why Neuhaus is Germany’s top crime writer. In Europe the sixth in the series is in print, and readers here in the US can only hope the translators are hard at work to bring us the next installments of this complex and widely-read crime writer.

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