kluftinger in bavaria

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Kluftinger (always!)

Monday is for Kässpatzn … 

Adalbert Ignatius Kluftinger is a detective chief inspector (aka KHK) in Kempten in Allgäu – for all those who are interested in history or tourism: Neuschwanstein is also located here. His father was in the police, his son … well – we’ll see when he finishes his studies.

Kluftinger loves his Kässpatzen, which his wife prepares for him every Monday for dinner. The rest of his culinary life is also rather hearty, urbane Bavarian, greasy and filling … and, according to today’s health fanatics, certainly not very healthy. (But after all, we all like to sin … a little!).

At the instigation of his wife, he is a member of the village brass band and plays the bass drum, so that they can both integrate and participate in village life. Kreuzkruzifix! In return, on Mondays he always gets the aforementioned Kässpatzen; in return he also puts up with the costume with leather trousers, scratchy knee socks, red waistcoat …

I would like to say something about the name right away … In the first nine volumes of the Kluftinger saga, Kluftinger is always just “Kluftinger” or (somewhat audaciously!) “Klufti”. It is not until the 10th volume that the secret of his first name is revealed. We therefore continue to call him simply “Kluftinger”.

… and I would also like to say something about the Allgäu: Kluftinger lives and works in the Allgäu, more precisely in the Oberallgäu. There is also Unterallgäu and Ostallgäu, not to mention Westallgäu. The Allgäu is in Swabia, more precisely in Upper Swabia; then there are Upper Bavaria and Lower Bavaria, the Franconian variety and the Upper Palatinate. In the lives of Kluftinger and his colleagues, for the inhabitants of Altusried and Kempten, origin (aka home) plays a major role and – Sapperment! – “Strangers” are automatically viewed critically and observed. (Kluftinger’s boss comes from Upper Bavaria, which makes all the people of Upper Allgäu uncomfortable: it’s just a different region with a different dialect and different customs and traditions. And Sandy, the secretary, even comes from Dresden in Saxony). The old-established Kluftinger loves his region and is very close to home.

Let’s move on to Kluftinger’s team. His boss comes from Upper Bavaria – as already mentioned – and has been transferred to the Allgäu. He only ever interferes when he wants to know something, wants to speed things up, when his boss or the press or regional TV are breathing down his neck. He is and remains a foreign body. Zefix!

Then there are Eugen Strobl, Richard Maier and Roland Hefele – all genuine Allgäuers. They are Kluftinger’s team and his errand boys and researchers and companions and whatever. Kluftinger regularly holds team meetings, situation meetings … and lately also brainstorming sessions to catch up and give the others work assignments.

I already mentioned Sandy (Sandra Penske) from Dresden, who acts as the good soul in the anteroom and is allowed to support everyone – not only with coffee, but sometimes also with the research work, but mostly she is not quite taken in her stride. Kluftinger always calls her Fräulein Penske (I actually thought the Fräulein had died out by now – but we are in Bavaria/Oberschwaben/Oberallgäu).

Kluftinger, at the beginning of the saga he is about in his early to mid-50s, has a work PC and a work mobile phone, which he also uses, although the PC always presents a new challenge, which Kluftinger is only too happy to ignore. Why does the forensics colleague have to send his results by e-mail when it would also be possible by phone or on paper? Kreukruzifix too!

Kluftinger has a hard time with foreign languages (especially English). Zefix! Why are there English texts on the mobile phone? Why did the situation meeting turn into a brainstorming session? He also doesn’t like international cuisine or holidays abroad – unlike his wife!

“Reading Kluftinger” means diving deep into a rural, Bavarian idyll. The clocks still seem to move a little slower here than in the rest of the republic. The food is hearty and rich. Working hours are strictly observed – well, almost always. We have roast beef with cabbage followed by warm Zwetschgendatschi with whipped cream. Sapperment! When the wife insists on going on holiday “to Malle”, Kluftinger reluctantly gives in (cleanliness? bacteria? viruses?) – but then the planned pool holiday turned into a straw widowhood, because a murder case kept Kluftinger on tenterhooks, so that his wife had to fly south alone with a friend to replace the husband.

What doesn’t quite fit into the idyll are, of course, the murder cases – brutal murders happen in the beautiful Allgäu too, and much more besides. Crime lurks everywhere, disrupts the peaceful coexistence and doesn’t really fit in with the image of the holiday region.

Agriculture in the Allgäu? Dairy farming and cheese production: but there is suddenly talk of new dairy products, of imported milk, of new biochemical methods – and leads directly to murder. A potential terrorist seems to be planning an attack, but is shot dead on the run: Kluftinger has to investigate and prevent the attack.

Of course, the Nazis were also in the beautiful Upper Allgäu more than 60 years ago and apparently sank “things” in a lake – shortly before the end of the war. Immediately, boxes of gold ingots, the lost Amber Room are associated … and that then leads, quite topically, in turn to murder.

Kluftinger has to deal with a serial offender who wants to take revenge. Accidents while mountain climbing turn out to be successful murder attempts. Investigations sometimes lead into Bavarian aristocratic circles.

Finally, Kluftinger himself becomes a case: someone threatens him with death.

Kluftinger and his investigations: he is always successful, even if he seems to walk around like a clumsy elephant in a china shop. His intelligence, which has nothing to do with the fact that he hates modern technology, doesn’t know any foreign languages or simply makes “nonsense” without thinking (or out of laziness!), helps him to link facts and make up a picture of the whole; his ability to remember little things is remarkable.

Kruzitürk’n! He even gets a daughter-in-law and becomes a grandfather … His daughter-in-law is Japanese, which he has to chew on quite a bit at first!

There is also a running gag: Dr. Langhammer and his wife Annegret, who is the best friend of Kluftinger’s wife (see also “Malle” holiday!). Kluftinger hates the joint social activities that always come up, instigated by his wife and her best friend. Langhammer, the giant fool, as Kluftinger thinks, is wealthy, has a house furnished with a lot of style and money, owns all kinds of technical gadgets, does sport and has a remarkably athletic figure, cooks exotic dishes … He can simply do everything better. Kluftinger sighs and puts up with everything: from joint visits to a leisure adventure landscape to bicycle tours in the mountains, joint cooking adventures … Dr Langhammer is the prototype of the successful, modern, open-minded citizen, while Kluftinger comes across as a village idiot who uses his peasant cunning to wriggle out of situations that are sometimes embarrassing for him.

There are also TV adaptations, but so far they have passed me by.

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a faint cold fear thrills through my veins ... william shakespeare