The Basel Killings by Hansjoerg Schneider

Thank you to Anne Carter for organising this blog tour and allowing me to be a part of it. All views are my own.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Police procedural have become a staple in the crime genre not only because they give an inside look to the everyday reader into the often romanticized police matters but because they are genuienly a joy to read. There are elements that make a police procedural great and most of these elements are being ticked off by in the debut of Schneider on the English market.

As the title gives away, the location at the centre of the story is set in Basel, Switzerland. One of the reasons why I chose to take part in this blog tour was due to the setting. I had yet to read a story set in Switzerland and when I heard it was also a police procedural I had to get my hands on it to see how the police works there.

I didn’t know in the beginning what to expect. Like all good crime novels, we are pushed straight into the story without much introduction to the characters. You are expected to carry through the story, to grow and learn to understand their feelings, and I can say it was a delightful ride. Inspector Hunkeler is the main character in the story, or better said the character through which we see the story develop. He is at the heart of an investigation and I often got the feeling that rather being inside the characters head, we are accompanying him, side by side.

With a great setting and an amazing set of characters, Schneiders sheds a light into the unglamorous life of Switzerland’s life of bars, bordellos and strip clubs.

The tone set by Schneider is I believe one of the strongest I have read in a translation fiction. Masterfully translated into English by Mike Mitchell, from the first sentence I understood that there is no way that the book I am about to read was like anything I read before. Sentences are often short, snappy and cold. Throughout the novel, the feeling for closure and coldness seeped out from the pages which in the end suited the story very very well.

With murders that seem to follow the same modus operandi the Inspector is quickly thrown into the unglamorous night life of bars and bordellos of Basel which Schneider doesn’t shy away to bring in front of the readers eyes. Some elements here reminded me a bit of the Noir elements also visited by Nesbo in his Harry Hole series, however Schneider manages to maintain a certain amount of originality. Often we don’t think about this when we think of Switzerland and I liked the juxtaposition Schneider managed to breathe inside my mind, making Switzerland feel more real.

Overall The Basel Killings is a strong debut novel which can be enjoyed by lovers of police procedurals due to the setting, by lovers of noir due to the tone and characters and lovers of thrillers due to the pacing especially towards the end of the novel. Schneider is definitely an author to keep your eyes on and I hope that Bitter Lemon Press will consider in the future continuing the translation of his future works.