In the High Peaks

Thursday, June 23, 2011

International Bestselling Thriller

I've been immersed in German author Sebastian Fitzek's first thriller, Therapy (2006), a bestseller that's been published in 22 languages. I've had a chilling, mystifying roller-coaster ride traveling alongside a psychiatrist who's been struggling to maintain his sanity following a four-year search for his young daughter who vanished without a trace. When a beautiful schizophrenic woman tracks him down to his father's seaside cottage on the North Sea island of Parkum, he is confronted with her wild claims that his daughter may still be alive.

Full of atmosphere, a punishing hurricane, and twists and turns that have left me baffled, wondering, "Who is the really crazy person here?" Fast-paced and almost impossible to put down, yet not a sophisticated read. Highly recommended, especially when a break from heavy reading is needed. Unfortunately, Fitzek, who seems a loving dogowner based on personal photos on his website, does depict images of a person killing a dog--I skipped over that page and tried not to think about it. This worked fine for this dog lover, but I thought I'd mention it in case others feel differently.

Yes, I'm reading Die Therapie for my German Postwar Literary Challenge. Anything goes for this challenge, as long as the book is German and published after 1945. Fitzek is obviously a fan of British and American thrillers because the conventions of the English-language genre are observed. Yet I was extremely interested in one aside that is presented apart from the action or the plot. (Inside every German writer is the crux of 20th-century German history.)

Viktor, the psychiatrist, is being interrogated by another psychiatrist.

" 'Remember the uproar about the forged Hitler diaries? asked Viktor. 'Remember how the newspapers fell for the scam?'

Viktor goes on to explain that he once spoke with a publishing executive whose company had been poised to publish the forged diaries. Viktor says, "He [the executive] said, 'We staked our reputations on those diaries. We'd risked too much for them not to be real. It was a case of seeing what we wanted to see; we were convinced they were genuine because the alternative was too awful to contemplate. We weren't looking for signs that we'd been conned; we were looking for proof that we were right.'"


  1. I've placed a hold on this at my library (and the Shulman book, too!). I've been reading your posts via Google Reader and not been clicking in as often as I'd like, so I've been following your posts on German lit and think this sounds like such a cool challenge. I've been trying to read more translated fiction but I've not yet read anything this year by a German author. Looking forward to this as I do love thrillers.

  2. I started it but the not sophisticated writing did bother me in German. I want to read it anyway a bit later. Germany has a lot of good thriller/crime writers. Many have not been translated (yet) but many have. I always liked Ingrid Noll and am sure you would too (if you haven't read her already). Petra Hammesfahr has finally been translated and Charlotte Link is due to be published early 2012.

  3. Caroline,
    Thanks so much for the tips about Noll and Hammesfahr. And I'll make a note in my "WannaRead" file about Charlotte Link for 2012.

    Fitzek is not a sophisticated writer, you're right on with that observation. Still, I found the setting interesting and somehow the plot pulled me around. I can forgive all kinds of deficiencies if a book is an entertaining, quick read.