The Basel Killings

Mysterious Book Report No. 458

by John Dwaine McKenna

The Basel Killings (Bitter Lemon Press, PB, 268 pages, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-913394-54-7) by Hansjörg Schneider was the winner of the Friedrich Glauser Prize, Germany’s most prestigious crime fiction award.  The novel begins with a pair of murders when an “old vagabond” named Hardy is killed on a park bench in the city of Basel, and a ‘lady of the night’ is pulled out of a nearby lake.  Both victims had been strangled and their left earlobes cut open with scissors to remove valuable earrings one containing a diamond, and the other a pearl.  Basel Police Inspector Peter Hunkeler digs into both murders and finds himself drawn ever deeper into an edgy world of bars, strip clubs, and the corrupt core of the city’s political elite . . . as well as the offices of a few titans of industry.  Hunkeler, following nothing but his gut instincts doesn’t think the murders are the work of Albanian and Turkish narco criminals, like his fellow detectives—who want a quick resolution—do.  He’s quickly suspended and in danger of losing his job, but continues on his own, neck-deep in Romanian gypsies and recent Swiss events that the power mongers would prefer to keep out of the public eye.

The Basel Killings, is a mystery novel, combined with a social and historical plot that points out the dangerous effects of absolute majority rule.  But it’s not only an exciting murder mystery, it’s also a stunning trip into the beauty of the Swiss countryside and geography.  Peter Hunkeler’s a flawed, but unforgettable character who’ll leave readers addicted and looking for more.  The good news is, they’re coming soon!

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