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Henning took off his gloves, took off his glasses and polished the lenses with a lens cleaning cloth. “There are at least two bodies down there. One has been chewed on by the dog, unfortunately, but the other seems to be quite well preserved.”
“Two bodies?” Pia exchanged a worried look with her boss, who was obviously thinking the same thing as she was. Three years ago, the daughter of a deceased man in Schwalbach had made a gruesome discovery. After her father’s death, she and her husband had cleared out a rented garage, and in the process they had come across a barrel full of body parts. The case had caused a sensation throughout Germany, because the man, who had led a perfect double life for over forty years, had been identified as the perpetrator of at least five brutal murders; four further unsolved missing persons cases could be to his account, but this had not yet been proven beyond doubt.
“I hope this doesn’t develop into a second Hesse Ripper case,” Bodenstein said.
“I certainly hope not either,” Pia replied, but of course she was afraid that they would neither be able to identify the bodies nor charge anyone with murder because the perpetrator had died and taken his secrets with him to the grave. Every investigator’s nightmare.
“Maybe there used to be a family cemetery here,” she expressed a faint hope. .
“Negative.” Henning nodded at the young man who handed him a mug with steaming coffee. “Unless they used to wrap their dead in cling film instead of burying them in coffins.”
from: Muttertag (Mother’s Day – own translation)
The Taunus Abyss
The Taunus is a beautiful, quiet, relaxing landscape with green forests, meadows and fields, small villages with picturesque half-timbered houses … the oasis of the metropolis Frankfurt, the coveted residential destination of all who can afford it. All the more astonishing that in this idyll series of murders are the order of the day. Detectives on duty in the Taunus soon realise that it is anything but a quiet job – especially when they move from the Frankfurt metropolis to rural Hofheim.
Oliver von Bodenstein and Pia Kirchhoff meet in the homicide department in Hofheim. The K11 department deals with violent attacks, arson and weapons crimes (according to research). The department is quite small because it is not really expected that much evil will happen in the middle of a rural area. When the two meet, Pia is in her late 30s and Oliver in his early 40s. The novels cover a period of more than a dozen years, both age accordingly and find themselves in their 50s in the latest novel – and their private lives pick up speed along the years and become increasingly complex. However, this does not mean that the two become closer …
In all these years, there are many cases that get under both their skins: People kill, take revenge, torture their victims, find satisfaction in deadly games. The victims are young, old, men, women and children, innocent or not so innocent as it seems at first glance. there are well-off or even rich families, there are people aching under the press of debts. Many things happen that make the headlines and that no one would ever expect to find in such an area. Oliver and Pia experience quite a lot of grieve and have to mull it over.
But let’s get back to the two cops first.
Pia Kirchhoff was married to the pathologist in the series (Henning Kirchoff). After the divorce she lives alone until she finds a new partner, marries and from then on bears the name Sander. (So much for the Kirchhoff/Sander theme.) Her husband brings a grown-up daughter into the marriage and also plays a role in the murder cases. She has a sister with dark secrets who works with criminals as a psychologist/psychiatrist and also makes her contribution to a case now and then. So Pia has a lot of family and relationship messes on her hands – and is also still reeling from a rape that happened years ago.
Oliver von Bodenstein is of nobility and wealthy. At the beginning he is happily married with two teenage children, then comes an unplanned third child, a straggler, then a divorce, then a new love and marriage and the offspring of the second wife: Oliver finds himself in a modern patchwork family. Of course, his well-off family members are also occasionally involved in the murder cases he investigates. There is a family and relationship mess here too – and Oliver experiences a drama from his childhood/adolescence catching up with him in a special complex case.
In short: The family evolutions take quite a part of the novels and are always entangled with the cases.
Oliver is rather reserved, waits and thinks before he takes action. Pia is totally spontaneous and always moves forward. She doesn’t care if she alienates others, whether witnesses, victims or colleagues. Together they are a good team. Oliver takes the murder cases with him; he takes time out and thinks about leaving the police. Pia, meanwhile, fills in for him at his chief post. In the meantime, she too shifts down a gear. The years and the cases have left their mark on both of them – not to mention the private developments and entanglements.
Of course, the team includes a data freak, a little nerd who knows his way around notebooks and mobile phones and is a true research genius. Finally, there is also a colleague with a migration background and others … The team in Hofheim is slowly growing. Of course, there is also a boss who is a female boss and always keeps an eye on the political implications – and of course guards the budget. (The boss also becomes part of Pia’s extended family at some point …)
Characteristic of the cases is their complexity. It is not just a simple murder and maybe another murder. The trigger for events always lies in the past. The past can mean a few years or a few decades. Family feuds do not let the descendants rest in peace. Revenge often plays a decisive role, whereby it always takes intensive research to bring the truth to light.
It is also characteristic that the cases always take place in the middle class or upper middle class. Let’s ignore the aristocrats for a moment … They play golf, they keep riding horses, they own nice houses … but there is always a dark secret somewhere that makes the beautiful façade first crumble and finally collapse.
All this is embedded in other crimes: Child abuse, rape, fraud, bigamy, bribery, extortion, corruption … Oliver and Pia keep trudging through a quagmire of lies and sometimes get dragged into it themselves. It is dangerous to be a policeman. Because the crimes always end up leading to risky actions on the part of the perpetrator. Pia in particular often starts solo adventures, which is – almost always – successful, but also life-threatening.
In short: there are not only insights into the German provinces, the German middle class and family tragedies, but also suspense and action are always in the mix.