Crime fiction

The books listed below are all recent New Books in German jury choices. Not only are they judged suitable for English-language readers, they also benefit from guaranteed financial assistance for their translation into English.

Krumholz by Flavio Steimann, Edition Nautilus, published March 2021

Steimann cover

Krumholz is a carefully crafted literary thriller that is sure to resonate with English-language readers.

The novel is based on a real crime committed in Switzerland in 1914, when a young woman was found brutally murdered in the woods near Krumbach in the canton of Lucerne. The perpetrator was sentenced to death by guillotine, becoming the last person to be executed in Lucerne before the death penalty was abolished there. Krumholz describes the lives of the deaf girl Agatha and her murderer, Torecht Innozenz Hilar.

Favio Steimann’s powerful prose, studded with vivid imagery and a treasure trove of poetic language, explores a dark episode of recent Swiss history as well as the prospect of brighter times to come.

Summer at Night by Jan Costin Wagner, Kiepenheuer & Witsch, published February 2020

Summer at Night is the first in a brand-new series from bestselling crime author Jan Costin Wagner – a cracking read with a fast-moving and exciting plot that keeps readers guessing until the very end.

When five-year-old Jannis goes missing from a school summer fair, detectives Ben Neven and Christian Sandner have very little evidence to go on. But with the help of Christian’s mentor, the retired detective Landmann, and their colleague Lederer, they establish that the case is probably related to the disappearance of an Eritrean boy in Austria. Meanwhile, Jannis’ abductor, a middle-aged man named Marko, is keeping him in his flat next to a lakeside campsite while his neighbour Holdner – who helped him dispose of the Eritrean boy’s body – plots how to ‘clean up’ this new ‘mess’.

Summer at Night is an expertly crafted novel that is difficult to put down and is also very moving, with the theme of heart-breaking loss woven through the different strands of the characters’ stories. Jan Costin Wagner once again proves his mastery of the crime fiction genre.

Sakari Learns to Walk through Walls by Jan Costin Wagner, Kiepenheuer & Witsch, published November 2017

Jan Costin Wagner’s literary crime novel is both a gripping police procedural and a sensitive treatment of guilt, grief and mental illness, all approached with great compassion and insight.

Sakari Learns to Walk through Walls is the sixth in the ‘Kimmo Joentaa’ series, four of which are currently available in  English. Each of the novels is of an extremely high standard with excellent characterisation, including an in-depth exploration of the characters’ psychological motivations.

Sakari is equal to the best of Scandinavian crime fiction and  would make an ideal book club selection, with plenty of thematic and ethical angles to fuel a lively discussion. Jan Costin Wagner’s focus on the psychology of crime is reminiscent of the acclaimed Norwegian crime writer Karin Fossum.

Read Simon Pare’s sample translation in English.

NBG jury crime selection forthcoming in English in 2023

The Line Between Day and Night by Roland Schimmelpfennig, S. Fischer, published February 2021 

The Line Between Day and Night is a fast-paced yet reflective novel that documents the colourful, hedonistic and seamy underbelly of contemporary Berlin life, seen through the eyes of a suspended policeman. 

With its candid exploration of the German capital’s legendary, drug-fuelled nightlife, the book will have a strong appeal for the many British and American readers who are fans of Berlin. The novel’s commercial potential is also enhanced by its conciseness, humour and brisk narrative, driven by the mystery that forms the backbone of the plot.

An English translation by Jamie Bulloch is forthcoming in 2023 with MacLehose Press.

Listen to translator David Tushingham give a superb reading from his sample translation of the opening pages of the book.

The books was a US Jury Pick, meaning US-based jurors felt is particularly suitable for that market.