Jakob Arjouni’s Eddy is a small-time crook whom we first meet in action at Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof where he stages a slapsticklike slip on a banana skin in the manner of an early Hollywood comedy. By the end of the afternoon he has acquired enough cash for an expensive lunch, a new cashmere coat, and several bagfuls of luxury goods bought with stolen credit cards. But things start going badly wrong when, back at home in down-at-heel Kreuzberg, he runs into Horst König, a once poor working-class boy at the moment much hated in Berlin for having laid off thousands of workers from his deodorant factory. In another slapstick scene König slips on the stairs, knocks his head against a pipe and dies. Soon, for reasons too preposterous to explain, Eddy is in gaol.
This is an exceedingly funny book. It is also, at times, a deliberately silly one, but so slick and well-written that the reader can just sit back and enjoy it. It brings its particular bit of Berlin vividly to life for any reader, and also offers, beneath its joking tone, some biting criticisms of the capital’s gutter press. You want a laugh? Well, here it is. ‘ As smooth as a