Book review: To Catch a Killer by Nele Neuhaus

Monday, January 25, 2016 Permalink

I read Nele Neuhaus’s Bad Wolf in early 2014 and reviewed it on Goodreads. I enjoyed it but (apparently!) found there to be too many characters as I had trouble keeping track of everyone. I wondered at the time if Neuhaus really needed to introduce quite as many players (names and details) though later realised it was the 6th in the series*, so guess regular readers had time to familiarise themselves with the many characters.

I noted at the time however one of the German author’s previous novels, Snow White Must Die, had received great accolades.

Book review: To Catch a Killer by Nele NeuhausTo Catch a Killer
by Nele Neuhaus
Published by Macmillan Australia
on January 27th 2016
Source: PanMacmillan
ISBN: 9781447295815
Pages: 406

Detective Pia Kirchhoff is about to leave on her long-delayed honeymoon when she hears that a woman has been shot while out walking her dog. Then more long-range shootings swiftly follow, and it becomes clear that a highly trained serial killer is on the loose.

The victims seem to have just one thing in common: they were all good people with apparently no enemies. So why are they dead?

As fear of the Taunus Sniper grows among local residents, all leave is cancelled for the Frankfurt police department as they are put on red alert.

The pressure is on Kirchhoff and her colleague, Oliver von Bodenstein, to find the killer before he can tick another name off his hit list.

Again I enjoyed this translation of Neuhaus’s work. In the review of Bad Wolf  I commented positively on that front as well… as I’d come off a number of books which I thought had been poorly translated and—though well-received in their country of origin—I struggled with the language and syntax etc.

I hadn’t really remembered Pia and Oliver from the previous outing but settled into both characters easily. Both are very dedicated to their work and it’s kinda touching that Oliver is conscious that (by remaining in his position) he’s holding his colleague back from promotion. Both, however, prefer catching the bad guys to the bureaucracy that might await them if they climbed the ladder.

We spend a little time with the officers outside of work, but once the case gets going it’s very much the focus of this novel.

And it’s an intriguing case and a little different to the usual fare. The involvement of a sniper would suggest psychopath randomly selecting passers-by or a hired killer; but we quickly learn the motivation behind the killings *may* be quite personal….

It was interesting that Neuhaus allowed us to spend some time with a character who could be peripheral (the daughter of a victim) but ends up playing a larger role. I’d love to see more of her in future novels, which we may well do. (And I can’t say why as that would be a #spoiler!)

We also meet Pia’s sister Kim. I’m not sure if she’s been introduced into the series previously but as Pia’s family is semi-estranged, perhaps not. As a forensic psychiatrist Kim’s a great asset to the team and brings something different into the mix of characters.

On a personal note, I struggled just a little with the content as the issue of organ donation and transplantation is touched on in the book—and not necessarily in a glowing way. As the daughter of someone who was given an extra 11 years as a result of a heart transplant this hit a little close to home. Obviously the content is fictitious but I was reminded of my father’s heart transplant and the physical and psychological stress (and guilt) he experienced after.

I enjoyed this far more than Bad Wolf… though suspect organisations promoting organ donation may shudder! 😉

To Catch a Killer by Nele Neuhaus will be released in Australia via Pan Macmillan on 29 January 2016.

* Bizarrely only Snow White Must Die (#4) and Bad Wolf (#6) have been translated into English before this novel…. which could account for some of my confusion and uncertainty re backstory!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.

  • Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library
    January 26, 2016

    This looks like and interesting police procedural though how weird that only #4 and #6 would be translated! I haven’t heard of this author and I’m a little concerned about all the characters – especially in a translated novel but I’m intrigued enough by the blurb to give this one a try. Maybe I need to go in taking notes about which character is which?

    • Debbish
      January 26, 2016

      For some reason I struggled with all of the characters in the earlier book but didn’t in this book. I’m not sure if less were introduced, or they were done in such a way I realised we didn’t NEED to remember who they were etc…

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