My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Eleven years ago Tobias Sartorius was convicted of the murder of his beautiful girlfriend Stefanie (also known as Snow White) and his childhood friend Laura after a trial consisting of circumstantial evidence only. After serving his sentence Tobias returns to the tiny German village he grew up in still unable to remember himself whether he is actually guilty of the crime he served time for, and hated by the tight-knit community of the village. Then, history begins repeating itself as another pretty girl with a remarkable resemblance to Stefanie goes missing, stirring up events from the past and leading Bodenstein and Kirchkoff to uncover secrets which the villager’s would prefer to keep hidden…
Snow White Must Die is the first of Nele Neuhaus’s books to be translated into English. As is often the case with translations of series’, the publishers have decided to start with what is actually the 4th book in the extremely popular Bodenstein and Kirchkoff detective series. The knowledge that I’m starting a set of books in the middle of the wider story arc often makes me feel uneasy. Cognitively I understand the need for publishers to translate the strongest book in a series first in order to attract their audience, but it inevitably means the reader does get a sense of having wondered into a party in the middle of the evening whilst it’s in full swing, where you know none of the other party-goers.
That being said, the enthralling plot of Snow White Must Die more than made up for the parts of the books which concentrated on Bodenstein and Kirchkoff’s private lives and (I assume) referred to the previous novels in the series.
It took a little while for me to settle into the writing style of the book. As it’s a translation it’s hard to tell whether this is to do with Neuhaus’ writing, or if it’s simply down to the translation. I will say that for the first few chapters of the book I found myself a little preoccupied with trying to follow the translation guidelines- that is, guessing what parts of the book didn’t exactly translate easily. There were certain phrases that jarred a little and didn’t seem to fit with the overall tone of the prose but once the action started I soon forgot about this and found myself transported into the novel.
Probably the aspect of this novel I loved the most is the fact I had no idea how it was going to end. Often crime/mystery novels give away their hand too soon, or are scattered with ludicrous red herrings that insult the readers’ intelligence. Neuhaus provided many intelligent possibilities for the resolution of the story, which made it almost impossible to guess the exact ending entirely. The plot is fairly complicated and intricate, but the ending makes complete sense and wholly satisfies every aspect of the plot that was up for question which is not an easy task for authors of this genre to accomplish. I will certainly by looking to see whether any more books from this series will be translated in future.
This review was first published on Nudge-books and Goodreads on 27th May 2013.