Dustin is usually hideously wrong about books (don’t believe him when he says it’s me) but he was less wrong than usual when he gave me Wolf Haas’s book Brenner and God. The voice of these books is incredible, like nothing else in crime fiction. I’m not even sure how to describe it. So blasé and conversational and a little mean, especially about the protagonist, private detective Simon Brenner. For example, here is how the book above, The Bone Man, begins:
Well, something’s happened again.
Spring’s a glorious time of year, though—poems and all that. And everybody knows, it’s in springtime that life awakens. That’s why nobody wanted to believe it at first when suddenly it was the other way around.
Yeah, I’ll say. A person has been using the bone grinder at a famous fried chicken restaurant to grind human bones and hide the homicide evidence. Something has indeed happened.
But where most books would use atmospheric language and cliffhangers to draw out such a story, Haas strips it all away, which has a chilling effect, like a picture on the Internet without an Instagram filter. Grade-A crime fiction, nice short paperbacks, nice covers, German coolness, the prestige of reading literature in translation—you have no excuse for not reading these if you are a mystery fan. NO EXCUSE.