Thursday, November 4, 2010

Glauser, Friedrich: The Chinaman

Glauser is always better when writing about events around Bern and the Bernese Oberland where this excellent thriller is set.
Sergeant Studer meets a man he calls the Chinaman because of his appearance even though he is a local man returned home after years away. The man tells him he is going to be killed within three months, something Studer does not accept but this
does happen when the man's body is found shot dead across the tomb of the wife of the local poorhouse superintendent who
had died on gastric flu, supposedly, a while before. Studer establishes firstly that the man did not shoot himself and then that the dead woman had also been murdered. Over a number of chapters which seem at times tangential to the plot, Studer gets his cast of suspects, all related to the dead man who turns out to have been fairly wealthy, and proceeds to eliminate them as such or help them incriminate themselves. The language is spare yet telling with the different characteristics of the
suspects and others coming through effortlessly. Studer himself is decidedly idiosyncratic in his methods without neglecting to follow proper procedure when he deems it best. Overall, it is easy to see why Glauser is held in such high esteem.

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