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3.8 out of 5 stars
A Wolf in Hindelheim (Unabridged)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This debut novel is set in a remote German village in 1926. Constable Theodore Hildebrandt is called to the house of Heinrich Muller and his wife, Joanna. The couple live with Joanna's elderly mother, her doctor brother, Peter Koenig, and his young wife, Ute. Heinrich and Joanna have a young son and recently had a new baby daughter, who is missing. The suspected abduction of a baby is considered by Theodore and his deputy, (and son) Klaus as, frankly, a minor incident. When asked by Joanna about what he can do, the Constable has few suggestions and, in any case, he is more interested in his attraction to Ute Koenig than anything else. Ute herself feels, "as if someone or something wicked is playing a game on everyone here." Indeed, the small village is oppressive, isolated and there have been rumours that a wolf has been sighted...

When a young Jewish shopkeeper is said to have visited the Muller's house on the day the baby went missing, he seems a possible suspect. Constable Hildebrandt is not convinced, but then, as Klaus complains, he has, "the luxury of being an outsider." Klaus himself is married and his disgruntled wife is expecting a baby. Theodore is a man who has returned damaged from the trenches to find that things have changed and that modernity is beginning to intrude on the quiet corner of the world he previously called his own; there is a new road being built and a canning factory is being planned. When the ambitous Officer Zelinsky asks Klaus to accompany him on a visit to the Muller's, to pay a courteous visit and smooth feathers that Theodore has ruffled, he asks whether Klaus is for the new world or the old. In many ways, this is what this atmospheric book is about - a time of change, when dangerous ideas - such as the new theory of eugenics and improving the race - are in the air, alongside old superstitions.

If you enjoy historical mysteries, then you will certainly like this novel. It has a real sense of place, an unusual setting and great characters. Theodore Hildebrandt is a man who has returned injured from the war, to find himself distanced from his son, unwanted by his daughter in law and at odds with the changing times. Ute Koenig was a young woman who enjoyed teaching, but is now under attack for wanting to take the jobs of men who fought for their country. The book straddles a time of huge changing attitudes and it is these emerging events which are of as much importance as the crime that Theodore is called to investigate. I thought this a really enjoyable read, recommend it highly and hope we hear much more from this very talented author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I love books that try to do something a little different and whilst it seems quite popular at the moment to bring historical crime to the fore, readers will be taken on a hell of a journey of what seems early on to be a crime title set in Pre-World War 2 Germany. Its not, it’s a tale that explores the mind-set of not only the people concerned but of Germany itself at the time. It’s definitely something that really strikes the heart of the reader and whilst it’s something that could have been heavily overpowered in any number of ways, what Jenny has done is bring the tale to the fore with an emotional aspect leading from the fore with believable characters letting the reader get a fuller flavour.

It’s a stunning title and whilst perhaps not for everyone it’s a book that I did get a lot out of as it is something that really gets to the readers heartstrings as we can look back on the time period concerned with the beauty of hindsight. All round a great book with characters that not only draw you in but one that has been carefully crafted for maximum effect.
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on 15 October 2014
Rural Germany 1926. Set in an isolated small village, this story relates a series of strange events and the human irrationality and unpleasantness it prompts. The tale’s main character is a widower, Theodore Hildebrandt, the local constable severely disabled from war wounds, who is called upon to investigate some seemingly minor events in Hindelheim involving the Koenig household. Hildebrandt, a likeable character, has the talent for irritating and upsetting those around him, though he develops a crush on the zesty Ute Koenig, the wife of the village doctor. His researches and suspicions uncover some odd behaviour and eventually trigger mass-irrational interest in a so-called Wolf Man of the village - a young Jewish store-owner Elias Frankel, who escapes from the capture of Hildebrandt’s deputy. The cynical Hildebrandt eventually goes too far for the comfort of his superior officers, but he succeeds (we think!) in unravelling the train of circumstances.
Despite the remote location of Hindelheim, the growing anti-Semitism and belief in the benefits of eugenics that infiltrated 1920s Germany also found their ugly way to the village, and indeed, I wonder if the mass-hysteria over the so-called werewolf is possibly meant by the writer as an allegory of sorts to understand how the German people came to support the extreme doctrines of National Socialism.
This is a literate and enjoyable first novel, with some lovely descriptive narrative. Just at times, the characters seem to lack a little credibility or resonance, giving a little grit to the otherwise well-oiled machine of the novel’s authority for the reader.
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We are in Hindleheim in S.W. Germany, October 1926. A new road is being created which will replace the rutted pathways so that a new factory producing canned and jarred food can bring this little backwater into the industrialised world. Constable Theodore Hildebrandt, however, is investigating the disappearance of a very young baby (Marie-Theresa) at the farm of Heinrich Muller, the father of the missing child and Johanna Muller, who is the child’s mother. They have one son, Dirk, who is a deaf mute. Also living at the farm are newly-weds Peter and Ute Muller (Peter is a doctor) and the mother of Heinrich, Frau Wilhemina. There is also a Housekeeper who comes in during the day. There is a suggestion that Heinrich’s mother may have taken the child with her to an outhouse, and left the baby there without intending any harm, but where she was later found - dead. Frau Wilhelmina is semi-senile, and the event is being treated as an accident.

Heinrich and Johanna already have one child, a son, who is a deaf mute. A suspicion arises in the reader when we learn that Peter is follower of the new scientific discipline of Eugenics and the reader may well suspect that this second child has been deliberately killed. Could it have been just too much for Heinrich to contemplate raising another child with an abnormality? It is Peter who signs the death certificate, however. So complicity is suggested.

Constable Theodore, it soon transpires, is already a little in love with the beautiful Ute, but he resists any declaration. Then there is a strange accident involving their neighbour Elias, who is Jewish. The coincidence of Elias delivering some kind of package to the Muller’s house and his involvement in the accident which occurs to one of the workmen are all worked into the plot and exacerbated by the neighbourhood gossips into a muddy case of occult blame lying with Elias. Just to complicate things, Elias runs off when he is arrested by the senior officer Zelinsky and he is later accused of having caused the death of one of the workmen. Elias claims to have seen a wolf in the forest, and he is given the epithet “Wolf Man”, which doesn’t help.

There is a trial and no one is satisfied with the verdict when Elias is charged merely with public disorder and is released within a few weeks. By virtue of fleeing the scene of the accident he is given the blame amongst the townsfolk and all sorts of rumours are sticking to him like glue. There is much more to this story, all of it redolent with the atmosphere of a town full of vicious gossip and angry, job-hungry and poorly educated people. It is a fascinating book and I very much enjoyed reading it. There may or may not have been a wolf in the woods, by the way, and the ending is very satisfactory.
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on 26 February 2014
A Wolf in Hindelheim is Jenny Mayhew's very first novel. I give Jenny full praise as this story must of took a long time to write.It is one of those novels you just can not put down. What I liked about the story is that it has so many twist and turns with wonderfull characters. This is with no question one of the most enjoyable thrilling Historical crime fictions novels that I have read. I found the story built with full tension. What I also loved about this story is that it grips you from page one straight into the story line.. The story is set in South-West Germany,October, 1926. In a small German village a baby girl has gone missing from the home of the village doctor .The local police constable Theodore Hildbrandt has to investigate the mystery The baby is found dead and tension rises amongst the villagers and a witch hunt begins for the young man that people are keen to believe he is responsible for the baby girl's murder. A Wolf in Hindelheim is full of tension and is also a unusal love story. I do recommend readers to read A Wolf in Hindelheim if you like reading Historical crime fiction novels. I hope that many readers will enjoy reading this novel as much as I have.
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on 29 August 2014
The mystery of a dead baby and a runaway 'wolf man' is the setting for Jenny Mayhew's debut novel.

Although the story begins at a good pace, focusing on a police constable and family of the child involved, it soon fizzles out. The book touches on some pre-WWII Jewish paranoia & a handful of mentions of eugenics but it never really goes anywhere. After the first few chapters, the wind escapes the sails and you are left floundering. At some points Mayhew's work is atmospheric and touching, it eventually descends into a bogus love story that is not entirely believable or interesting. As the book meanders on, it tends to focus on the less interesting aspects of the story and some superfluous characters. It's as if Mayhew hasn't decided whether she's writing a piece of crime fiction or if she's creating a Germany on the brink of fascism - the latter a far more interesting read.

Underwhelming.
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on 4 September 2014
I have just finished this for my book group, and i have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised by this novel! I must admit that I was not particularly looking forward to reading this, based on the books blurb, but how wrong I was! I was hooked pretty much straight away. I really love Jenny's writing style and the entire novel is just so descriptive and atmospheric. I do think it slightly tailed off somewhat towards the end, but i will definitely look out for the next book from this author x
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on 9 November 2014
This is well written with glowing reviews from the Times and Sunday Times. However I found it very slow going struggled to finish it. I have a spreadsheet with newly recommended authors and grade each author green (read more), yellow (OK) or red (never again). This is the first 'red' book I have read this year. It is not really a crime book; I didn't really connect with any of the characters and found little to admire in them.
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on 27 November 2014
Excellent, atmospheric novel that deals more than competently with a number of complex issues, entwining folklore with modern history.

The claustrophobic village; microcosm of the larger nation and the horror that was to come, put me in mind of the film The White Ribbon by Michael Haneke.
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on 29 January 2015
I really enjoyed this book. An interesting insight into pre Second World War Germany small village mentality. Well worth reading.
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