Sunday, September 18, 2011
A travelling salesman is murdered in the woods around the small town of Gerzenstein, Switzerland. A young man with a police record is arrested by Sergeant Studer of the Berne Police Force. The case is apparently closed, the ideal suspect has been found and the authorities should in normal circumstances be happy.
But Sergeant Studer remains suspicious. He’s an old policeman, overweight, unwell, underpaid and long since passed over for promotion. Nevertheless he has a sense that all is not well and travels to the scene of the crime in order to carry out an investigation.
Thoughout the investigation people are reluctant to engage him and at times Studer feels he is being hampered and going nowhere. A conspiracy of silence seems ranged against him. The sergeant recalls the advice of an old friend on investigating criminal cases in a small town.
"Out there in the country, in a village, the people stick together, everyone’s got something to hide. Nobody will tell you anything, not a thing. While in the town….my God, it’s more dangerous, yes, but you know the customers you’re dealing with straight away. They can’t keep their mouths shut, they let things out. God save us from country murders."
Glauster is the master of creating an atmosphere. In a few deft sentences he can create a tension filled room as a suspect is under interrogation, a fly might buzz about the room or the ticking of a clock between the suspects silences.
Friedrich Glauser was born in Vienna (1896-1938), a morphine addict, he was diagnosed a schizophrenic and spent much of his life in psychiatric wards. Between 1921-23 he was a member of the foreign legion in North Africa. Two days before he was due to get married he suffered a stroke and died two days later. Germany’s best known crime writing award is called the Glauser Award.
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