Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Review of Brenner and God by Wolf Haas (Melville International Crime, 2012; German 2009)
Brenner and God is a curious book. The story is told through an anonymous narrator who both tells the story and 'talks to' the reader, sometimes telling them what to do ('My dear Swan, pay attention, this is important'). It’s a style that I found increasingly irritating, partly because it comes across as somewhat patronising. There are also a number of what are meant to be profound digressions, providing insights into modern society, but most fall flat. As for the story, it’s a kidnapping story with a twist, based on two unrelated but coincidental threads. The plot is interesting enough, but its telling felt a little underdeveloped in terms of its realisation, characterisation and sense of place. I never felt as if I got to know any of the characters in any substantive way and some barely played a role or were under-used (for example, the cop to whom the reader is given a relatively substantial introduction near the beginning then disappears until the end when he very briefly re-appears). This should have been a book I that I thoroughly enjoyed given the theme and supposed dark humour, but it just didn’t click into place for me, mainly due to its voice and underdeveloped narrative.