It is the end of October, the northern Swiss city of Basel is grey and wet. It could be December. It is just after midnight
when Hunkeler, on his way home and slightly worse for wear, spots old man Hardy sitting on a bench under a streetlight.
He wants to smoke a cigarette with him, but the usually very loquacious Hardy is silent—his throat a gaping wound. Turns
out he was first strangled, then his left earlobe slit, his diamond stud stolen. The media and the police come quickly to the
same conclusion: Hardy’s murder was the work of a gang of Albanian drug smugglers.
But for Hunkeler that seems too obvious. Hardy’s murder has much in common with the case of Barbara Amsler, a
prostitute also found killed with an ear slit, and her pearl stud missing. He follows his own intuition and the trail leads him
deep into a dark world of bars, bordellos and strip clubs, but also into the corrupt core of some of Basel’s political and
industrial elite. More ominously, he will soon discover the consequences of certain events in recent Swiss history that
those in power would prefer to keep far from the public eye
This was a first for me. My first foray into , for want of better words, Swiss Noir. And this also the first in a new series. The Inspector Hunkeler Series. I have never read a crime novel set in Switzerland before. There is always a first for everything.
At first you may think you are in familiar territory,thinking Rebus, Mankell etc., flawed detectives with marital and drinking problems. But that is where the similarities end.
This book explores much more than just the flawed detective. It explores within the investigations into murders that are so similar that there must be a connection between them.
But this book also opens up the question on how we as a society treat immigrants and strangers on our shores. How our prejudices are formed not only by our own opinions but by the powers that be. Do they have something to hide? you will need to read to find out and you will enjoy finding out.
This book sees our hero trying to solve cases and being baulked at every turn, from petty office politics and governmental interference.
This is a slow burn of a book that takes the reader on a slow meandering trip through the dark part of Basel society. You will enjoy the ride.
The Basel Killings is a great read, especially for those that like their protagonists flawed and plausible, slightly eccentric, and their surrounds as gloomy and depressive as the crimes being investigated.
The Author and the Translator
Hansjörg Schneider, born in Aarau, Switzerland, in 1938, worked as a teacher, and journalist. He is one of the most
performed playwrights in the German language but is best known for his Inspector Hunkeler crime novels. Schneider has
received numerous awards, among them the prestigious Friedrich Glauser Prize for The Basel Killings. He lives and
writes in Basel.
Mike Mitchell lives in Scotland and has published over eighty translations from German and French, including all the
Friedrich Glauser Sergeant Studer novels and Gustav Meyrink’s five novels. His translation of Rosendorfer’s ‘Letters Back
to Ancient China’ won the 1998 Schlegel-Tieck Translation Prize.