Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Haunted by the Past, 19 Feb 2008
This review is from: The Sinner (Paperback)
In the vast preponderance of crime stories, the detective must examine means and motive (the how and why) in order to identify the culprit (the who). This English-language debut from German writer Hammesfahr flips the traditional arrangement, by making the who and the how absolutely clear from the start, and making the why completely unknown. There is no dispute that Cora Bender attacked a man at the park with a paring knife and killed him in plain sight of her own husband, son, and plenty of witnesses. What no one, including Commissioner Grovian, can figure out is why. And to my surprise, Hammesfahr manages to make his quest to understand the "why" into a gripping tale.

Even as Cora confesses and offers explanation, Grovian senses that her story isn't quite right. And for 300 pages, he prods, pokes, and literally digs into her past to try and figure out what triggered her seemingly senseless murder. Cora is a psychological mess, and as she throws out lies, half-truths, and whole truths in sometimes coherent, sometimes manic, monologues and interviews, Grovian is constantly sifting away. Cora's childhood was a very strange one, raised by an intensely Catholic mother, sexually frustrated father, and both religious and sexual themes pervade the story. Her youth was also overshadowed by her invalid younger sister, whose illness drained most of the family's energy, money, and love. Grovian must peel away at this complex family history to learn what triggered Cora, and the climactic revelation pays it all off beautifully.

I don't tend to go for crime stories that are this intensely psychological, but this is a corker. It's perhaps a touch to long, and in places a touch too slow, but these are relatively minor quibbles considering the mesmerizing tale. The comparisons to Patricia Highsmith are valid, and hopefully some of Hammesfahr's twenty or so other books are equally good and will become available in English.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 18 Jan 2013 18:55:42 GMT
lucycane says:
I loved this convoluted story could'ent put it down.
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4.7 out of 5 stars (6 customer reviews)
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A. Ross
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Location: Washington, DC

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