The reader should feel sorry for young Alexander Zabel, who, at the age of twenty-nine, has been pressured by the head of his law practice into defending aged industrialist Herbert Klofft in a case for wrongful dismissal being brought against him by his former employee and mistress Katharina Fuchs. She is thirty-four, he is seventy-eight and dying of cancer. It is soon apparent to Alex not only that his client’s case is weak, but also that he has been concealing material parts of the evidence. It only remains for Klofft to storm into the court in his wheelchair and create a deplorable scene for his case to be spectacularly lost.
Kettenbach the thriller-writer is already well launched in Britain, but this new offering is less a thriller than an investigative cliffhanger. It offers many insights – how this particular rich man’s house is run, and what influence is wielded by his seventyyear- old wife Cilly, an artist with whom Alex finds himself drawn into a complex and unwilling relationship. And the surprise twist at the end reveals a good deal more about everyone, Klofft included. Comforting, in these hard times, even to be tempted to feel sympathy for a millionaire.