Mon
Jan 14 2013 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Snow White Must Die by Nele Neuhaus

Snow White Must Die by Nele Neuhaus is the fourth in the  Oliver von Bodenstein and Pia Kirchhoff series (available January 15, 2013).

Secrets.

A small town holds many secrets.

When 30-year-old Tobias (Tobi) Sartorius returns to his small hometown after serving a ten-year prison term for double murder, those secrets start to fester and ooze.

Snow White Must Die by Nele Neuhaus is the fourth (and most successful) in Neuhaus’s series featuring German detectives Oliver von Bodenstein and Pia Kirchhoff and it is the first to be translated into English. (One of Neuhaus’s stand-alone novels will be published in English this summer.)

Bodenstein and Kirchoff get involved in the small town’s business when a skeleton belonging to one of the dead girls shows up in a tank on an abandoned military base about the same time someone pushes Tobi’s mother over a bridge and into busy traffic.

Tobias claims he can’t remember what happened on the fateful night his two ex-girlfriends disappeared but someone knows who lies at the bottom of that empty fuel tank and someone knows where the body of the second girl has been all these years.

And everybody knows the identity of the person who pushed Rita Cramer into traffic but nobody’s telling.

On the surface Snow White Must Die is a Euro-Noir that unfolds in a leisurely fashion after a Gothic opening worthy of William Faulkner. (Think “A Rose for Emily.”) We’re introduced to Tobias and his father and many of the other inhabitants of Altenhain, most of whom are not happy to see the young man return to the scene of his crimes and most of whom are ready to help speed him on his way to anywhere else but there.

One of the few friendly faces in Altenhain is 17-year-old Amelie Frölich, a teenager banished from Berlin for her antisocial behavior. She becomes fascinated by Tobias and the 11-year-old murder case, much to the dismay of everyone in town, including her autistic best friend Thies, whose brother Lars was one of Tobi’s best friends before the murders.

Tobi’s father has given up fighting the other villagers and now just wants to be left alone. His son still has a fire in his belly, though, and does not shy away from confronting the local shopkeeper (and head gossip). 

“I’ve served my time and now I’m back,” he tells her, “whether you like it or not.”

She doesn’t like it, not one bit, but when her husband intervenes and tells her to let Tobias pay for the groceries he wants to buy, she clenches her teeth and obeys.

Snow White Must die is a Euro-Noir that has co-opted the tropes associated with cozy mysteries—the small village, the gossipy inhabitants, the family secrets—and used them to chilling effect.

Call it an “anti-cozy.”

Here the local watering hole is a place where villagers gather to drink and eat but also to scheme and plan and conspire. Amelie works at the Black Horse and keeps her eyes open and her neckline plunging (the better to attract tips) and forms her own opinions about Tobi from the gossip she hears.

Pia also has her own opinion about the long-dead case and those opinions put her at odds with Oliver and also with their boss who is working with limited resources and doesn’t want any of them wasted on investigating a case that was solved a decade earlier. Oliver, who usually trusts his partner’s hunches, is distracted during the case by personal problems and so is Pia, and that’s an aspect of the story that reminds us of cozies as well. Just as the small town inhabitants of Althain are connected by marriage and blood and shared secrets, the law and order world of Pia and Oliver has its own secrets too.

This book would make an excellent television series along the lines of The Killing, especially since it offers some respite from the darkness in the form of Pia’s loving relationship with the director of the local zoo. (She met him on a case.)

The characters in Snow White Must Die are solid and well-drawn, and the investigation—which gets a little over-the-top near the end—is still absorbing and engaging. You may very well guess the identities of the people involved in the murders and the cover-ups but you will not guess all the secrets this book holds.

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See more coverage of new releases with our Fresh Meat series.


Katherine Tomlinson lives in Los Angeles in an apartment where her TBR pile has its own bookcase. She writes dark fiction but has a soft spot for cozy mysteries, heroic fantasy, and horror novels where only bad people get killed. She is the editor of the upcoming anthology Nightfalls.

Read all posts by Katherine Tomlinson for Criminal Element.

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135 comments
Gordon Bingham
1. gordonbingham
Am really enjoying the expansion of Euro noir translations...looking foreward to this one!
Susan Spann
3. SusanSpann
This looks fantastic. I love seeing translations of foreign language works - sometimes it seems like most of the translations go in the opposite direction, and I love the chance to read works by authors from other countries!
Anne Muller
5. anne38
This does sound good. First I've heard of it.
jason fiske
7. off2europe
Brings a lot of different things into this story. Specially like that a character is autisitc
Deborah Dumm
8. deb730
Sounds like a really good series of books.
Elizabeth Vollbach
13. techeditor
Sounds good. I'll write a review after I read it and post to several sites on the Internet.
Tina Myers
14. teena
Love what I read so far now I need to win it find out the ending..Thanks
Anita Nowak
15. sirdustin
Sounds like a great mystery I would like to read!
kathleen eddy
16. reddox
I don't usually like translations, but this looks really good.
Brianna Lee
17. briannaleereviews
Sounds great! I would love to read and review this book!
Eva Moller
18. barna254
Haven't read this series yet. Sounds very interesting.
Joanne Mielczarski
19. jtmswim
I am so anxious to read this book - I can't wait for it to come out!
Karl Stenger
20. Stenger
Being Geman, I would love to read this book
Walt Nickell
21. Sherrick
This is not my typical genre, but I am now officially intrigued. I'd love to win a copy, but even if I don't, I WILL be reading this one.
William Hamilton
23. billham68
I look forward to its publication and will definitely be reading this new entry into the U.S. market.
Gary Anderson
24. gwander
That is a great cover. The ghostly face in the snow scene really catches my eye. I will be looking for this cover when I make my trip to the bookstore later this week!
Rob Blake
27. Galdrin
Looks like an interesting read. Hopefully the rest of the von Bodenstein and Kirchhoff sweries will appear in English soon.
Rosa Abraham
30. ravensfan
Looks like a fun read. I hope the rest of this series gets translated into English.
Angela Dyrcz
31. angeladyrcz
I love finding a new series and this look likes a great one!
Irene Menge
32. Goldenmane
Small towns can be lovely, but I think most contain evil under the surface, human nature being what it is.
Susan Pertierra
33. orchidlady01
I haven't heard of this series but it looks interesting.
Barbara Bibel
35. bbibel
This sounds like a great noir. I want to read it.
Micheal Camp
36. mcamp4
This book will be one I will be reading this year
Anne Joyce
37. ajoyim
I like the idea that this is the first book but, only the fourth in the series from these German authors that has been translated into English...maybe more in the future?
Sara Latta
38. slatta
I'd love to read this book; you got me at "anti-cozy."
Andrew Beck
40. queerbec
So glad that more and more of the exciting new European thrillers are being translated into English and offered in American editions. This one sounds absolutely terrific! As long as the irreedemable chill of a wet winter forces writers' minds to wander in such unseemly directions--and the summer gives them time to put thoughts to cyber document, then keep 'em coming!
Kay Gornick
41. kgornick@mpr.org
Will this German translation be the southern Jo Nesbo or Henning Mankell?
Barbara
42. braeuber@sbcglobal.net
I've loved the Scandinavian thrillers; would love to read one from Germany.
john frost
44. jackfro
Soungs interesting. Having spent some time in Germany, would love to read this.
MaryC
45. maryc
Sounds great - wonder if the first three in the series will be published here.
Lisa Kaiser
46. lisakaiser
This looks a super read. Would love to read a contemporary German novel by a German author.
Cindi Hoppes
48. CindiHoppes
What an interesting plot and characters...
Thanks very much!
Cindi
jchoppeshotmailcom
Margot Core
49. AnnaZed
An anti-cozy that manipulates the tropes of a cozy, how yummy. I am just the gal for this book.
50. Dariti Gale Albright
I think most old fairy stories can be classified as "anti-cozies." Stories for children are often blood-curdling and populated with ghoulish characters. For example, the witch wants to cook and eat Hansel and Gretel, Snow White's wicked stepmother wants the girl's heart cut out by the huntsman, and Beauty is held captive by a shape-shifting Beast because her father dared to pick a rose! I can well imagine that Snow White Must Die would be a very exciting read. I'd like to find out about Euro-Noir.
51. Lynda L
Look forward to reading the whole book!
52. Pat Bassett
can't wait to go and get this book....couldn't wait for the next paragraph...I lived in GE for 5 yrs, and could identify with some of the places mentioned....yummy book.....
Annette Estell
53. AEKZ2
This is definitely on my to read list
Sandra Hofsommer
54. Shofsomm
Have enjoyed the Scandinavian mysteries but am ready to read those written by top mystery writers from other countries. This book suggests a new experience and I am really intrigued by the suggestion of a Faulkner-like begining.
Gregory Sparks
57. sparkplug54
sounds interesting. Complex, but not to much to follow.
Chris Wolak
64. ChrisWolak
I've been looking forward to this one! Already a looong waiting list for it at the library.
Ellen
66. Neroon
You get more out of a book than just the mystery if it's set in another culture.
Phoenix Vie
67. Phoenix
I've heard good things about this series, but haven't had a chance to read it yet.
Cristina
68. AlaskanBookCafe
Sounds good. I read this is his first to translate to English although it is fourth in the series. I am wondering if there are plans for translating the whole series? I am interested in reading all of the series.
Chris
69. love2havefun007
Love idea of anti- cozy and fascinated by snow white idea.
alicia marie
70. bamayankee
This is the first I've heard about this book, but it sounds really good!
Vikki Parman
71. stormvikki
The title is certainly eye catching, looks like a good read. Anti cozy is a new term for me.
Kelley Tackett
73. tackettfamilyky
Love the title and cover. I would read any book described as "anti-cozy."
Susan Stokes
76. Susan
Anything I have read From Abroad has been such a learning experience..And always Thrilling.. Great Description..TBR..Have All Winter..: )
vicki wurgler
78. bison61
A small town holds many secrets-that is true!
Laura McLendon
79. LMcLendon
"Anti-cozy" for sure but still looks very intriguing and interesting too!!
Thanks for the chance to read a new genre.
Dale
80. Peterson
As an avid of European crime writers, a new one from Germany should be very interesting.
81. janmaus
I've certainly fallen for these grim tales--looking forward to this one!
Janet Martin
82. janmaus
Trying again--logged in this time. Then I'm off to see if I can find translations of other books in this series.
Lisa Richardson
83. keizerfire
This looks good! Seems I've been reading a lot of grim and dark stories lately!
susan beamon
85. susanbeamon
I have never heard of the "anti-cozy", but it sounds facinating.
Sharon Haas
86. kazul
This sounds good for a dreary winter day!
Carolyn Dileo
88. cbdileo
Always looking for the next wonderful mystery!
Thank you,
Margie Young
89. Msmargie2
This looks like it will be a great read !!
Angelica Hernandez
90. AngelicaRose
Obsessed with Snow White and grim tales. I hope I'll be lucky enough to win, if not will still probably read.
Sherri Bailey
91. sherri19
Would love to have a chance to read this! Sounds intriguing!!!
Tatiana deCarillion
92. decarillion
I'm happy that they have resurrected The Killing! I'm not familiar with this series, but the review has me adding it to the to-read list :)
Evelyn Matias
95. edq143
I'm just dying to read this. Crossing my fingers!
Joanne Mielczarski
96. jtmswim
Looking forward to reading this book!
Tarah Manning
97. tarah716
This books sounds like a page turner! I'd love to read it!
evelyn J
98. Evilyne
I would love to win a copy of Snow White Must Die!
sarah perry
102. oddball2003
I would love to read this book, winning a copy would just be the icing on the cake :)
lynette thompson
103. LYNETTE52
This sounds like a great book to read.

Lynette Thompson
Sally Cadagin
105. cadamyst
Looking forward to reading a new to me German author.
Karen Cherubino
106. kcherubtx
This sounds like a great read; have added to the wish list.
kathy pease
107. klp1965
Thank you for the great giveaway please count me in :)
Joe Hauser
108. jhauser42
It is funny to see how many names are in red and realize that none of them read the entry requirements
DeeAnn S
111. sweepster49
My kind of book. Guess I'll have to read the series! :) Thanks.
Candice Hull
113. candicesweeps
Sounds interesting. Thank you for the chance to win!
Vernon Luckert
115. vl4095
Looks like the Germans have it out for Snow White - Ha. Looks like a very interesting read.
118. merry partridge
can't wait to read this one !
122. Andrea Henry
wow not your typical fairy tale
Tim Moss
123. Yupbucket
This sounds interesting to say the least.
Edward Vandenberg
125. Crunch57
This looks like a good well written book.
Jennifer Fajer
128. JenniferPaige
I would love to read this. Thanks for the opportunity!
Barbara Ryan
129. bamr07
This will be a terrific read and mystery to enjoy this winter. Thank you
Amy Taylor
132. LadyAmy1_
Looks like an intersting story and an entertaining read! Can't wait!!
Lisa Kaiser
134. lisakaiser
Am really egaer to read this!! Would love to receive a copy!
judy oliver
135. jjudyfl
Seems a welcome thriller to add to my couch pile.
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