A German roman noir
A murder at a motorway service area, the brother of the murder victim who is looking for the murderer, plenty of lowlife stories from the present and the past – these are the ingredients of Frank Göhre’s new crime thriller.
By Holger Moos
After a ten-year hiatus, Frank Göhre, who was awarded the 2011 German Krimipreis for his last work Der Auserwählte (The Chosen One), has published a new crime novel, Verdammte Liebe Amsterdam (Damned Love Amsterdam). It immediately made positive waves and got onto the list of best crime novels in March 2020: “Nothing for squares: bleak romance, rough lives. Only Göhre can do that.” Genre expert Thomas Wörtche considers Göhre a master of his field: “If the term ‘roman noir’ can be used anywhere, then for the oeuvre of Frank Göhre” (Deutschlandfunk Kultur). And Göhre’s current work is indeed dark.
The plot? Hamburg restaurant owner Georg “Schorsch” Köster is informed that his brother Michael was found robbed and murdered on a motorway service area. Schorsch feels that the police aren’t trying to solve the case in earnest. He begins to investigate on his own.
From Hamburg to AmsterdamThe clues lead Schorsch to Amsterdam, where his brother was looking for a missing girl. Suse, that’s her name, fell for a petty criminal, the Moroccan Arif, and robs tourists with him. Like his brother before him, Schorsch also gets mixed up with the drug and prostitute milieu there.
In addition to the main plot, Göhre presents another story line taking us into the past of the two brothers. Not only were they both in love with to the same girl, they also shared a dark family secret.
Breathless and wide awakeThere are also many minor characters who unfold a small social panorama. The players include violent and corrupt police officers, tyrannical fathers, paedophile stepfathers, money-hungry women to name but a few.
Göhre’s narrative style is straightforward. He writes short sentences and short dialogues. Göhre skilfully switches between timelines and narrative perspectives so readers get rather breathless and need to stay wide awake. The slim volume is, in the words of Thomas Wörtche, “pure substance” or, according to Karsten Herrmann on literaturkritik.de, “like a strong espresso”.
Frank Göhre: Verdammte Liebe Amsterdam
Hamburg: CulturBooks, 2020. 168 S.