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Crime and Guilt Paperback – 1 Mar 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (1 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099549271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099549277
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 254,890 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Small literary gems" (The Times)

"Mesmerizing" (New York Times)

"A strange and scary fictionalised casebook" (Boyd Tonkin Independent, Books of the Year)

"What makes these tales stand out are not the extremes of their protagonists but the narrator's voice: resistant to melodrama, dryly funny...never less than humane. If Crime shows the arbitrary nature of justice, it also backs the underdogs" (Adrian Turpin Financial Times)

"A wonderful debut, gripping from the very first page and not a word out of place" (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)

Book Description

Provocative, shocking and brilliant, these stories may change the way you judge the world.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By prisrob TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 14 Mar. 2011
Format: Hardcover
Assistant District Attorney Schmidt in one of the stories in Ferdinand von Schirach's novel,'Crime' made a statement that connects all of the stories of murder, mayhem and lust, "Follow the money or follow the sperm. Every murder comes down to one or the other."

Ferdinand von Schirach is a criminal defense lawyer in Berlin, Germany. He has defended the famous and infamous, and here he tells some of their stories. His uncle was a judge and a soldier in World War II. His grandfather was convicted of crimes against humanity at Nuremberg. There is a history here, and the stories von Schirach tells all come from the heart and most involve guilt of some sort. There are eleven stories, all different and all are mesmerizing in their own right.

'Self Defense' may be my favorite story. A man at a train station defends himself from two criminals, the fact that he does not say a word at any time, to anyone, raises the level. The District Attorney and the Defense Attorney vie against each other, and the man continues to remain silent. How do you defend a man who does not speak, it can be done. 'The Thorn' may be the most unusual of stories, a museum guard patrols and guards the same room for some twenty odd years. He comes slightly unhinged, and his journey is one to behold. 'Tanata's Tea Bowl' may be one of the most gruesome crimes, but the story underneath is the reality. The other eight stories are as fascinating.

The characters are rich and full of life. Their stories are told by the author and narrator, but the words come from the characters. The road to their crime is told from their perspective, and the author fills in the voice of the law. Ferdinand von Schirach gives us a base of German law, and how it is practiced.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross TOP 500 REVIEWER on 11 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback
This debut collection of eleven short stories by a prominent German lawyer is an excellent window into the psychology of crime. Each brief story (all apparently based at least in part on real cases) lays out the facts of a case taken up by a criminal defense lawyer who is also the book's unobtrusive narrator. Using economical and unadorned prose, the author is able to create a strong sense of the lives of the defendants, and the circumstances and choices that led to their legal troubles. There is a certain dry restraint to this approach that some readers may find a little lifeless, but I found it to be honest and even compassionate in its execution.

The crimes range from the relatively mundane (an elderly man snaps after fifty years of marriage to a shrewish woman and kills her, a sister kills her disabled brother after years of caring for him) to the extreme (a museum guard destroys the piece he has been guarding for 23 years, a schizophrenic young man attempts to slice off a portion of the woman he is deeply in love with so that he can eat her). What is unveiled over the course of most of the stories is not the mundane matter of guilt or innocence, but the underlying psychology of the individuals, and in these cases, the narrator is keen to express their humanity. However in a few stories, such as one about about a mysterious mute man who kills two skinheads who attack him on a train platform, or another about a Lebanese boy who creates a perfect alibi for his criminal brother, the author seems more intent in showing how the law can sometimes be circumvented by the truly clever.

The stories are fascinating, not only for their details and presentation, but for the small insights they offer into contemporary German society.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By KathyKDReader on 31 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback
I saw this book in our independent book shop, bought a copy and liked it so much that I bought a second copy from Amazon.It is very well written and easy to read. I like the short stories, I can read one and finish it before dropping off to sleep at night or also read and finish a story on a short journey.It is an easy book to carry around. The stories are varying length and all very different.They are about people and the crimes they commit- sometimes the crimes are very understandable. I have read some of the stories more than twice.It is obvous that the author is using his experience as a lawyer to write. My German friends have also read and enjoyed the original German book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mr. P. F. Harrison on 13 Jan. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I discovered von Schirach through 'The Cassini Case,' and the spare, taut character of that book is carried through in this collection. The book brings together in English translation two separate titles first published in German. In total there are perhaps 30 short accounts, some very short, of cases with which von Schirach has dealt (names and details changed, of course). You will need a strong stomach to read some of these tales. Not because they are gory: very few are. However, the sheer misery and brutality of some people's lives, and what they do in response to their circumstances will, I think, sometimes take your breath away. This is von Schirach's achievement: to present, candidly and without the slightest patronising note, the utter hell which some people (perhaps very many) endure day after day, and what happens when finally they can take no more.
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