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Guilt Hardcover – 1 Mar 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus; 1st Edition edition (1 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701186488
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701186487
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 1.9 x 20.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 771,063 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Masterful storytelling... Guilt is a significant book" (Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung)

Book Description

The chilling new international bestseller from Ferdinand von Schirach, author of Crime

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The sequel to Crime, which I read with great enjoyment last year, offers more of the same - short stories focussing on crimes, and often crimes in which the defence lawyer in the German legal system plays a critical role in determining the outcome of justice.

The stories are told with great economy, and calmly recount the life histories of some very unfortunate and some very bad people. There's a very real sense of the real world against which crimes are committed, the scenes of the crimes can be vividly rendered. So too can the psychological springs of behaviour, though some are not explicable.

The best stories here are excellent and the equal of anything in Crime. But I did not feel they all reached that same high standard.
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Format: Hardcover
'Guilt' (which appeared in German in 2010) is the second volume of stories in which the author has drawn on his eminent legal career for the outlines of events. The first volume, 'Crime', was a runaway best-seller in Europe and has also been translated.

For the reader new to von Schirach, the first impression may be that these are simply recountings of real-life legal cases fleshed out with a little journalistic reconstruction. The straightforward tone - closer to that of a policeman dispassionately documenting the facts than that of a lawyer making a case - encourages that illusion. Certainly the book might be enjoyed at that level. But rest assured: these are stories, and as they accumulate it become clear that they work together as well as in isolation.

In each tale, Von Schirach gives us a series of events that in theory lead to a clean conclusion and then pulls the rug out from under the reader's reasonable expectations. By the end of the book, one is left with a deep sense of the fragility of human lives and the limits to which other people may be known. Von Schirach is unsparing, where need be, with the forensic details, but nothing is exaggerated or forced: there is never a sense of horror indulged for its own sake. He can also be dryly funny, and on occasion - as in the story 'The Key' - a master of farce.

As a practising lawyer, von Schirach is well aware of the ambiguity of the terms of his trade - 'crime', 'guilt', 'remorse', 'punishment', and so on. The sheer messiness of life makes any simple understanding of these straightforward conceptual categories inadequate.
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Format: Hardcover
The author, now 50, is one of Germany's most prominent defence lawyers. It is likely the 15 cases described here are constructs rather than reconstructions of real crimes from among the 2.000 cases he has thus far been involved with. Von Schirach has a way with words that crosses borders. His books are hits among crime buffs and law students.
This collection of cases is stunning in its diversity and impact. None of the cases is typically German. They deal with various aspects of a key judicial term, guilt. The searing opening tale "Funfair" shows how powerless judges and prosecutors can be when the accused choose to remain silent. Its longest story "The Key", the book's most violent and most hilarious tale, focuses loosely on Lebanese criminal families in Berlin. Other cases include a trio of juvenile Satanists at a boarding school, a cold case solved via DNA, a sadistic husband and a convicted paedophile.
Von Schirach expresses his admiration for Germany's code of criminal law, which dates back to the 19th century and which clearly defines deadly crimes against persons. Every murder is also a manslaughter, but how many manslaughters are murders? In one spectacular case von Schirach realizes only after the judge acquits his client that the judge was smarter than he himself and knew all along what really must have happened. A perceived weakness of German criminal justice is the size of its labyrintine apparatus in large cities: in a case of mistaken identity a man is wrongly charged with a crime he could never have committed. In another case rural judges are shown to have more leeway than their colleagues operating from within massive institutions.
Best of all, von Schirach is a gifted stylist and a born storyteller.
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Format: Hardcover
'Guilt' by Ferdinand von Schirach is a disturbing collection of short stories. The author is an acclaimed defence lawyer in Germany, uses his 'case notes' to tell truly shocking tales of Crime and Guilt.
His writing is exquisite, dark and intense, described in a cool and collected manner, which grips the reader from the first page. Nothing is lost in the translation by Carol Brown Janeway.
It is storytelling at it best.
I am not usually attracted to short stories as I prefer to experience the journey, however reading the work of Ferdinand von Schirach has changed my view of this genre.
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