As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Sphere, 13 August 2015. ISBN: 978-0-7515-5687-2 (PB)
This book should come with a health warning: care required; could
seriously mess with your mind.
The scenario the author sets
up certainly messes with the protagonist’s mind – though to be fair, it was
pretty messed up in the first place. Criminal lawyer Robert Stern has never
succeeded in moving on after the unexplained cot death of his two-day-old son,
some ten years before this book begins, and when a strange sequence of events
leads him to believe the child may still be alive, he is drawn inexorably into
a dark, complex underworld of murder, revenge and danger.
It begins with another child:
Simon, an engaging ten-year-old boy who is dying of terminal cancer – and is
convinced that he was a serial killer in a previous life. Sceptical? So is
Robert Stern, until Simon describes the body and burial place of one of his
victims – and leads him right to it.
As Stern sets out to prove
one way or the other whether Simon’s ‘memories’ are genuine, the police prove
unhelpful at best, and he finds himself crossing and recrossing a well-evoked
Berlin and its surroundings on the convoluted trail, and also in the sights, of
a present-day killer whose identity and agenda remain a mystery until almost
the end of the book. The tension level never falters; the sense of ‘how will he
get out of this?’ kept me gripped until the final twist.
Sebastian Fitzek has a keen
eye for an interesting character. Stern is the best kind of damaged hero: full
of flaws, and with a history that has provided him with friends in usefully
dark places, but ultimately one of the good guys. Young Simon is
heartbreakingly serene about his ultimate inescapable fate, and about the
rollercoaster journey he embarks on with Stern and Carina, the nurse who almost
sacrifices her career to help him solve the mystery of the ‘memories’. She is
intelligent and feisty when she needs to be, though occasionally a tad
over-emotional. Borchert, Stern’s seedy former client, is arguably the most
interesting of all, with feet in various grubby camps as well as a basic sense
I’m not normally a fan of
translated fiction, so full marks not only to Fitzek but also to John
Brownjohn, who has turned the original German into pacy idiomatic English which
never falters. Fitzek is apparently hugely popular in his native country; The
Child deserves to raise his profile in the UK as well.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Sebastian Fitzekwas born 13 October 1971 in Berlin Germany. He is a writer and
journalist. His first book Therapy
was a bestseller in Germany in 2006, toppling The Da Vinci Code from the No1 position.
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen,
and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but
never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher
for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now
burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with
books, about half of them crime fiction.