Hansjoerg Schneider (born 1938) lives in Basel and is the author of a number of highly acclaimed plays and the bestselling Hunkeler crime series. The Basel Killings was awarded The Friedrich Glauser Prize, Germany's most prestigious crime fiction prize.
Silver Pebbles is the first crime novel I've read that's set in Switzerland, giving interesting insight into the country and culture. This was an easy and entertaining read, thanks to its vivid descriptions and seamless translation by Mike Mitchell. Unlike many police procedurals, the book doesn't feature a murder investigation. Instead, it provides a fresh approach by following police as they close in on a diamond-smuggling drug mule who has managed to become separated from his sparkling haul. The book focuses heavily on the main character, Inspector Hunkeler, with all his flaws, as he embarks on a search for the diamonds before the drug mule finds them again. It also follows the sewage worker who discovers the diamonds stuck in a blocked pipe - and his mistress, who has a few ideas of what to do with them. As expected, none of the characters have an easy ride. Silver Pebbles is a short read, but there's plenty going on and a lot of shifty characters, turning it into an (almost) one-sitting read for me.
This piercing and smart crime novel almost creates a physical ache as it worms its way under your skin. Inspector Peter Hunkeler investigates a murder that appears to link to another and while colleagues blame a gang of drug smugglers, he begins to look in another less obvious direction. This is the award-winning and first to be translated book in the Inspector Hunkeler Series set in Switzerland on the border of France and Germany. The main character feels tightly wound as he stamps all over the pages, he is simple yet complicated, and entirely fascinating. Hansjorg Schneider writes with succinct sentences that gather and spill over into an evocative setting and plot. Translated by Mike Mitchell, the atmosphere slunk into my thoughts and haunted my reading. I witnessed Hunkeler as he scented the truth and allowed access to an awareness that sat just under the surface before breaking free. The Basel Killings is a story that lurks and scowls as it stomps its way to a compelling and interesting conclusion.