If you haven’t heard of the insanely talented and clever Wolf Haas, it’s probably because you speak English and live in America. One of the best-selling crime fiction authors in Germany and other German speaking countries, as well as Europe, he is best known for his books featuring Simon Brenner – think of Brenner as the German Adrian Monk…sort of – three of which have been made into films ;Komm, süßer Tod (Come Sweet Death), Silentium! and Der Knochenmann (The Boneman). He has won several prizes for his works, including winning the German prize for crime fiction (Deutscher Krimipreis) three times.
Brenner and God (Melville International Crime) is the seventh in the series and the first of his books translated into English. Haas’ protagonist, private eye Simon Brenner, shows strong similarities to the lonely hero of the hard-boiled novel of Chandler and Hammett.
Structurally, Haas also follows the model of the hard-boiled thriller. In contrast to the analytical detective story of Sherlock Holmes and the "cozy" English style of Agatha Christie,which emphasizes the power of logic and deduction, Brenner’s method of investigation involve him deeply into the criminal activities suggesting that crime is not the exception in society but rather the rule.
The conjunctive relationship between crime and crime scene also emphasizes the novels’ critical agenda, and a satirical and cynical criticism of Austrian and German society is very much a part of the plot, just as Chandler, Hammett and the other great American hard-boiled writers had an indictment of our society at heart.
Read an excerpt
Brenner and God finds Brenner, an ex-police investigator, now a burned-out shell of a man, seeking a peaceful career as the personal chauffeur for two-year-old Helena, the daughter of a Munich construction magnate and a Viennese abortion doctor. Brenner, who never thought of himself as a man who liked small children, finds himself during the long commutes with Helena growing quite fond of her and even looking forward to, and cherishing his duty.
Then one day, he finds himself, uncharacteristically unprepared for his simple job as Helena’s driver. He starts the long commute low on gas and with no treats for his charge. At a gas station, while Brenner’s attention is diverted by the usual losers that hang out at gas stations and by picking out a chocolate bar for Helena (Brenner’s private, and as he sees it, harmless rebellion against the wishes of Helena’s parents. Helena is forbidden chocolate and sugary treats).