Snow White Must Die by Nele Neuhaus

I keep an eye out for mystery/thrillers translated from German and this book had been on my radar for several months before it was released in January. Then, as luck would have it, I won a copy from Criminal Element.

It was also the featured book for February on The German Book Office’s Facebook page.

Snow White Must Die is book #4 (of 6) in the Pia Kirchhoff and Oliver von Bodenstein mystery series, which is a huge seller in Germany and other countries. This is the first of the series to be translated for the US market and I really hope it won’t be the last.

From the Publisher:  On a rainy November day police detectives Pia Kirchhoff and Oliver von Bodenstein are summoned to a mysterious traffic accident: A woman has fallen from a pedestrian bridge onto a car driving underneath. According to a witness, the woman may have been pushed. The investigation leads Pia and Oliver to a small village, and the home of the victim, Rita Cramer.
; On a September evening eleven years earlier, two seventeen-year-old girls vanished from the village without a trace. In a trial based only on circumstantial evidence, twenty-year-old Tobias Sartorius, Rita Cramer’s son, was sentenced to ten years in prison. Bodenstein and Kirchhoff discover that Tobias, after serving his sentence, has now returned to his home town. Did the attack on his mother have something to do with his return?
In the village, Pia and Oliver encounter a wall of silence. When another young girl disappears, the events of the past seem to be repeating themselves in a disastrous manner. The investigation turns into a race against time, because for the villagers it is soon clear who the perpetrator is—and this time they are determined to take matters into their own hands.
An atmospheric, character-driven and suspenseful mystery set in a small town that could be anywhere, dealing with issues of gossip, power, and keeping up appearances.

German cover

I really enjoyed this mystery–the characters, the plot, the German names & locations–and couldn’t wait to pick it up again between work/chores/etc. It was gritty enough to be edgy and had some creepy moments, but ultimately it is a story about people, not plot or place.

The translation flowed well although it was stilted a few times, perhaps more in the beginning than that I noticed later, but nothing that was off-putting.

4/5 stars: good characters, good plot, good pacing.

Snow White Must Die
by Nele Neuhaus
Translated by Steven T. Murray
Minotaur Books, January 15, 2013
Originally published in Germany as Schneewittchen muss sterben by List Taschenbuch, January 2010

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