Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Collini Case: Ferdinand von Schirach

This is a book that is difficult to review without telling too much of the story, primarily because of its brevity. It is a novella -- a simple, straighforward story with one overarching idea as its main point. It is a crime novel but it is about the why of murder, not the who.

From the publisher's page on this book (Penguin.com):
Fabrizio Collini is recently retired. He’s a quiet, unassuming man with no indications that he’s capable of hurting anyone. And yet he brutally murders a prominent industrialist in one of Berlin’s most exclusive hotels.
Collini ends up in the charge of Caspar Leinen, a rookie defense lawyer eager to launch his career with a not-guilty verdict. Complications soon arise when Collini admits to the murder but refuses to give his motive, much less speak to anyone.


The plot does have twists but this is not a thriller.  The writing is simple and sometimes flat in the telling, but the story itself is very compelling. It is interesting in many ways: the picture of the legal system in Germany; glimpses at Germany's history during and after World War II and how it continues to haunt the people who live there.

For me, this book resonated most because it shows how a person's life can be changed forever by traumatic events. Even when a person survives a psychologically damaging event in their life, it may shape every other event that follows. We get some back story of events in both Collini's and Leinen's younger years. Leinen ends up investigating Collini's past in order to come up with some defense, even though Collini will not speak about the incident or the reason. The result is not surprising but is still affecting.

I received my copy of this book from Rebecca at Ms. Wordopolis Reads and I am very grateful that she gave it to me. I don't know where I read about this book first, but it was Rebecca's review that really sparked my desire to read it.

Please check out Rebecca's review of The Collini Case, which has links to several other reviews which in turn link to more information on the book. This review at The Complete Review is very detailed and has links to many, many reviews and articles. It is useful to look into after you have read the book, but you would not want to get all the details available there before reading it.

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Publisher: Penguin Books
Length:  186 pages
Format:  Hardback
Setting:   Germany
Genre:  Legal Mystery
Translated from the German by Anthea Bell


18 comments:

  1. I've skimmed as I have this waiting for me. I didn't realise it was a short as this, so I'll move it up the pile.

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    1. Very short and very interesting read, Col.

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  2. TracyK: I equally skimmed the review. I want to read this book but have yet to come across it in a bookstore. When I do I will read and be back to comment.

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    1. Bill, I will be eagerly awaiting your opinion of the book. I wondered what you would think of it as soon as I finished it.

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  3. Tracy, you have piqued my curiosity. I'll have to see where I can find a copy. Some good fiction books I've read in recent years were non-thrillers with a flattish narrative.

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    1. I do hope you find a copy, Prashant. I had been wanting to read more legal mysteries and this one is very different.

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  4. Thanks for the link, and you're welcome for the book, Tracy. It's definitely a book that makes for lots of discussion, and I feel like that's about all I could say about it in my post about it. I'll have to dig into more of the articles about this on The Complete Review as well.

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    1. Rebecca, all the information about the book and its author's background is interesting but also a bit overwhelming and I am taking it in small pieces.

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  5. Tracy - I thought this novel was powerful too, and for exactly the same reason. It shows how much of an impact events can have on a person for the rest of that person's life. And it raises important questions too, that I think need to be discussed. Fine review!

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    1. Thanks, Margot. A very good reading experience, with lots of food for thought.

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  6. Well, so glad you read and reviewed this book, which I think is a contribution to crime fiction and international law and human rights.

    I found out about the book from the late, brilliant Maxine Clarke's blog and from Katherina Hall's blog, Mrs. Peabody Investigates. There were lively discussions at both blogs, and it got quite involved at the latter website, and Mrs. P. revealed that the book unleashed a discussion inside Germany about the criminal justice system and WWII.

    An interesting point about the author, a defense attorney, is that he discusses his grandfather, who was an unrepentant war criminal, who served time in prison and was unrepentant upon his release. That's a brutal family history to live with, and it's one that this author is vehemently opposed to.

    I hope everyone interested in not only legal mysteries, but international human rights and fairness, as well as repercussions of WWII, reads this book. It packs quite a punch.

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    1. Kathy, thanks for your insight on this book. I agree, it is a book that anyone could benefit from reading.

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  7. I have this one, Tracy. Thanks for the reminder. I do want to read it this year. I'll read your review after I've read it.

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    1. Keishon, once you know you want to read this book, it is better to avoid reviews, and come at with little knowledge.

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  8. Thanks for the review.....I still do not read enough mystery/dectective/polar ( detective in French). I had a curious experience: was reading book reviews in a French magazine and discoverd great polar/dective written by a Dutch author! Sometimes I miss the books written in my own country! Eva Marie Staal is here name and her book ( 2007, Try the Morgue) has just been translated to English. TV offers are on the table from USA....they want to make a series about the subject matter....curious?

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    1. That book by Eva Marie Staal does sound interesting. I did a little a little research on it, I will look out for it at book sales and bookstores.

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  9. I have this one on my pile, someone gave it to me, so have just skimmed for now and will come back when I have read it.

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    1. Good, Moira, will be looking forward to reading what you think of it.

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