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by Friedrich Glauser
Bitter Lemon Press, January 2004
197 pages
ISBN: 1904738001

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Wendelin Witschi is found dead in the forest -- a victim of an apparent robbery. Erwin Schlumpf is seen the next night spending more money than he normally would make. He was also supposed to marry Sonja, Wendelin's daughter. The police decide that this makes him a prime suspect. When he attempts to run, their hypothesis is justified.

Sergeant Studer is not certain of Schlumpf's guilt, but he is merely following orders. Studer turns him over to the prison but then returns to question him. After preventing Schlumpf from killing himself, Studer decides to investigate the crime. He quickly realizes that the motive for this murder was stranger than he had imagined and that the family is part of the conspiracy. Studer must find the true killer before all of his witnesses stand mute.

The Switzerland of THUMBPRINT is much darker than that found in tourist brochures and movies. The policy of neutrality that Switzerland is known for makes living there difficult on its citizens. While the country itself does not judge others, the citizens judge both countries and the other people in their own towns. This book shows that the underbelly of Swiss life is ugly and hate-filled.

THUMBPRINT is a very short book, hence the character development is practically non-existent. It is impossible to get a true grasp on any of the characters and their actions do not provide much information about their personalities. Another problem I faced was that the similarities in several of the names made it difficult for me to keep track of who was who. This second concern is most likely due to the names being unfamiliar to me. This is not necessarily a problem other readers might face.

While I did find the book slightly confusing, I would read another book by Glauser. Because this book was published in translation, it is possible that some of the areas I was concerned about were due to the translation and not to the actual writing. In addition, Sergeant Studer and the politics of Switzerland might make more sense if I was exposed to them again.

Friedrich Glauser was a renowned author in Europe. Bitter Lemon Press plans on publishing several of his works. This is the first time THUMBPRINT has been published in English.

Reviewed by Sarah Dudley, July 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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