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by Zoran Drvenkar and Shaun Whiteside, trans.
Blue Door, March 2012
400 pages
12.99 GBP
ISBN: 0007439253

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Kris, Tamara, Frauke and Wolf are four young underachieving Berliners who conceive of 'Sorry', a company that makes apologies and restitution on behalf of others. The company thrives, but on what they expected to be a routine visit, the four are presented with a dead woman nailed to a wall. The client, Meybach, instructs them to clean up and dispose of the body, and threatens their families if they fail to do so. Suffering shock, they get into a dispute as to how to respond, and are unable to communicate and formulate an effective joint plan of action. They follow Meybach's instructions but the four's disorientation is aggravated by the body's disappearance overnight. Evidently there is another active party involved, of which Meybach and the four are unaware. Several more deaths follow before the background and motivations of key participants are made clear.

SORRY is strong medicine and will appeal to those who like the tension and grisly detail found in such writers as Patricia Cornwell. A harrowing back story of paedophilia underpins the action, which incorporates several scenes of murder and torture. The mental anguish suffered by the four is also tough going - all have demons that are re-awakened by the nightmare into which they have been precipitated. The tension is skilfully maintained as the narrative moves rapidly between times and characters to reveal pieces of the jigsaw. The reader is kept guessing to the end as to exactly what is going on, while being sufficiently in advance of the protagonists to make their mistakes painful to watch.

In crime novels where Machiavellian evil characters lurk in the background observing the protagonists a degree of credulity is normally called for, and SORRY is not too troublesome in this respect. However, the basic premise was a challenge. The creation of a firm of professional apologists is not that much of a stretch. But that such a company should generate enough cash in six months to enable the purchase of a detached lakeside property in a nice Berlin suburb calls for real suspension of disbelief.

SORRY was written originally in German, and Shaun Whiteside's translation into English is excellent. The rather random moves from present to past tense are perhaps a little strange. Even odder is the use of the second person in some chapters. Overall, however, these factors do not substantially detract from the flow of the narrative.

Chris Roberts is a retired manager of shopping centres in Hong Kong, and now lives in Bristol, primarily reading.

Reviewed by Chris Roberts, March 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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