Crime and Guilt by Ferdinand von Schirach and Carol Brown Janeway (translator)
|Crime and Guilt by Ferdinand von Schirach and Carol Brown Janeway (translator)|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: Eleven cleverly crafted stories of guilt and consequences that will shock, provoke tears, anger and the occasional smile while leaving you with the realisation that the grass where you are now is green enough by comparison.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 432||Date: March 2012|
|External links: Author's website|
A fictitious, unnamed German criminal defence lawyer opens his files and takes us through some of the cases with which he's been involved over the years. Each of the eleven chapters is a fully formed recollection introducing us to such people as tragic Theresa and Leonhard, a sister and brother bound by deep affection despite the 'tough love' tactics of their millionaire father, the tale of the two muggers who picked the wrong (and very mysterious) victim and the story of Dr Fahner's fatal promise made to his wife.
Ferdinand spent his childhood in a household reverberating with the consequences of guilt and how society seeks to punish it as his grandfather, Baldur, was one of the convicted Nazis in the Nuremburg War Trials. It's therefore no surprise that Ferdinand ensures that each person involved remains humanely portrayed, whether the crime is accidental or demonically vicious; they're all fathers, sons, mothers and daughters. Some of the perpetrators, like the young sheep killer (at least we think it's as sheep) and the student who uses a knife at the height of passion as he realises that he fancies a nice slice of girlfriend may be a little unsteady in the sanity department but then there are also cases of contrasting bewilderment, like that of the Ethiopian who's just a victim of circumstance.
Originally published in two separate volumes (called Crime and Guilt oddly enough) the book feels very much like the old TV programme Tales of the Unexpected. It's easy for us to imagine the narrator sitting in a leather winged armchair as he introduces and guides us through each chapter. At least in each story he starts as a narrator, by the time each has reached its conclusion, the tense has changed from third person to first as he's installed himself in the thick of the action.
By the way, I'm sure that you will have surmised this already but, just in case it needs saying, this is definitely not a children's book due to there being some graphic scenes and occasional moments of extreme out-of-body blood flow. If you're highly squeamish it may be an idea for you too to choose something else from the bookshelves. However, if you can take some blood-letting, the fact that Ferdinand writes in the style of reportage does help to reduce the pronounced feelings of goriness there would otherwise be.
A special thank you to Vintage for sending us a copy of this book for review.
If this has whetted your interest for more stories connected with crime, try Murders of London: In the steps of the capital's killers by David Long. If you'd prefer something more humorous than bloodthirsty, perhaps Anonymous Lawyer by Jeremy Blachman, or Rumpole at Christmas by John Mortimer would be better.
You can read more book reviews or buy Crime and Guilt by Ferdinand von Schirach and Carol Brown Janeway (translator) at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Crime and Guilt by Ferdinand von Schirach and Carol Brown Janeway (translator) at Amazon.com.
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