Title: Snow White Must Die (Goodreads)
Author: Nele Neuhaus
Translator: Steven T. Murray
Series: Bodenstein & Kirchhoff #4
Published: Minotaur Books, 2013
My Copy: Library Book
Buy: Amazon, Book Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)
Skin as white as snow, hair as black as ebony and lips as red as blood… Snow White Must Die is far from a fairy Tale. In a small German town, after serving 10 years for the murder of two 17 year old girls, Tobias Sartorius is released. The town is not happy with his return and when another pretty girl goes missing the suspicion obviously is put on him. As the police race to find the missing girl they start to discover things are not as black and white and maybe Tobias isn’t the killer they all thought he was.
Snow White Must Die is my first German crime novel and I was very impressed with the way this book played out. You start off with a suspicion and slowly through the complex twists you discover that this is just a huge web of lies. The book starts off with Tobias return and the whole town angry toward him, it reminded me a little of We Need to Talk about Kevin with the author exploring the psychology of trying to live in a town where everyone hates you.
Then you discover all the evidence that convicted Tobias was circumstantial and that’s when the questions start. I spent a lot of time trying to understand the motivations of each of the characters, always suspecting they are hiding something. Nele Neuhaus plays with the reader really well, always hinting but never showing her hand too early. The complexity of this case grows but Neuhaus beautifully handles it all without going overboard.
I love the way Nele Neuhaus starts off the story with Tobias as the lead and then when things start getting more centred around the crime it shifts focus toward the detectives working the case. I think this was masterfully done and left it open to kill off lead characters if she wished without throwing the story out. As the corruption and the conspiracy within this town begins to be uncovered, no one is safe and this leaves the reader with an anxiety when they put the book down.
I don’t remember the last time I’ve read a police procedural that I’ve enjoyed this much, I’ve noticed this is book four in a series but it reads like a standalone book. I really hope they translate more of Nele Neuhaus novels because I’m really impressed with her style and would love the chance to enjoy more of her books.
Snow White Must Die is a well crafted thriller that while brutal and violent, it still remains accessible. I would have liked this book to be a little darker but it was still a brilliant book of lies, greed and corruption. I would love to read some more German novels, crime ones in particular if anyone has some good recommendations. Nele Neuhaus showed real skill when she wrote Snow White Must Die and it was a real pleasure to experience it. I wish I could read German to enjoy this book in its original text.