Penguin/Michael Joseph, $33.00, 190 pages, ISBN 978-0-718-15919-1
Secretly, every writer fantasizes about their book becoming a best seller. Whether it’s fiction or non, every person pecking at a computer keyboard, or scritching away on yellow foolscap late into the night, harbors a dream of being heard: that their words and ideas will be so compelling, great masses of readers will pay attention to what they’ve written. It’s a dream few realize. The thing is though, in spite of the odds against it, some lucky few really do win the lottery, and that keeps all the rest of us buying tickets . . . or writing more books. This week’s Mysterious Book Report is about one of those rare first novels which become bestsellers. A book so well done and illuminating, it impacted and helped bring about major change to an entire federal legal system. It’s hard to believe, but it actually happened last year in Germany where the novel has been a runaway best seller. After reading it I understand why.
The Collini Case by Ferdinand Von Schirach, translated from the German by Anthea Bell has received rave reviews all over Europe, England and America. It should be read by every citizen and young person in America before they exercise their right to vote because it illustrates that the system can indeed work, although in ways not readily apparent, and because it shows just why all citizens should regard their government with a healthy dose of skepticism, demand absolute transparency from every level, and lastly . . . beware the interests of special interests, operating hand-in-hand in secrecy with elected or appointed officials.
The story begins with the murder of a respected, well-regarded businessman, the sole owner of a multi-billon euro international conglomerate with thousands of employees. The murderer is a man named Fabrizio Collini; a retired Italian guest worker who had worked for Mercedes-Benz for thirty-four years; a man who, in all respects was just as he appeared to be . . . an honest, hard working man without a criminal past. What then, caused this man to walk into a luxury hotel and kill an eighty-two year old man, execution style with two bullets to the back of the head, and then stomp on his face until it was unrecognizable? That is the question young public defense attorney Caspar Leinen tries to answer as he attempts to defend a man who admits to the murder and refuses to talk about why he did it. As if that’s not enough, the slain man is someone Leinen had grown up with, a man he almost considers his grandfather, and a man with a history. It’s a courtroom drama interspersed with flashbacks of the young attorney’s life, and a trial that’s about to rock the entire nation. It’s a novel that touches all who read it, with a not-to-be-forgotten message. Don’t miss out. Read this important book.