Das Wetter vor fünfzehn Jahren
(The Weather Fifteen Years Ago)
Hoffmann und Campe Verlag, September 2006, 224 pp
ISBN: (10) 3-455-40004-3
Vittorio Kowalski, the son of a of a miner from the Ruhr, has notched up a strange achievement: every day for the past fifteen years, starting at the age when he himself was fifteen, he has recorded the weather in a small Alpine village in Austria where he and his family used to spend their summer holidays, always staying in the same pension. What is more, he can remember every detail of the weather of every day. Now he is invited to display this uncanny ability on a TV game show. The dates pour out. But so, in Vittorio's mind, do a stream of memories he had previously repressed - memories of his unfulfilled love for a local girl called Anni, of the terrible accident that led to her father's death, of his own near death at the place of their clandestine meeting, and of a secret love affair between his mother and the dead man. His feelings of guilt as a result of these dreadful events drove a wedge between the young couple. Will another unnatural death, now belatedly revealed, have the unexpected effect of reconciling them?
Wolf Hass made his name with a gripping succession of thrillers featuring the grumpy Inspector Brenner, whose line is a penchant for morose meditation but who always gets his man. Now he has embarked on quite a new line, writing books that combine the crime novel and the love story and in this latest offering throwing in an extra trick. This is to relate the story not as straight narrative but in the form of a book-length interview between Wolf Haas and a fictitious journalist. The result is an additional layer of suspense as interviewer and interviewee elaborate on seemingly peripheral - and often idiosyncratic and hilarious - side aspects of the tale, while the reader waits impatiently for the jigsaw pieces to fall into place. It also allows the opinionated Haas the pleasure of airing his own caustic views on literary, business, and journalistic ways of life.
True to his old form, Haas brings this tale to a spectacular and stunning conclusion. With its light and witty style and unconventional approach, this book is a devilish delight.