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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Der Knochenmann

Wolf Haas

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To purchase Der Knochenmann

Title: Der Knochenmann
Author: Wolf Haas
Genre: Mystery
Written: 1997
Length: 182 pages
Original in: German
Availability: Der Knochenmann - Deutschland
  • Der Knochenmann is the second in the P.I.-Brenner series
  • Der Knochenmann has not yet been translated into English
  • Der Knochenmann was made into a movie in 2009, directed by Wolfgang Murnberger and starring Josef Hader as Brenner

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Our Assessment:

B : enjoyable provincial thriller

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       The second mystery in the Brenner series, Der Knochenmann ('The Bone-man'), finds private investigator Simon Brenner in another small town in a corner of Austria -- in eastern Styria, this time. Klöch hardly has much claim to fame, but people do go out of their way to come here for the fried chicken that Löschenkohl makes at his huge restaurant. Brenner has been hired by Löschenkohl's daughter-in-law, who more or less runs the place, but even though he is welcomed at the huge restaurant, and given a room in the place to stay there while he conducts his investigation, he encounters a few hurdles. Like the fact that the woman who hired him never seems to be around.
       The reason she hired Brenner was to look into a case that the police couldn't figure out. A huge restaurant like this one goes through a lot of chickens, and that means a lot of bones are left over. They've always had trouble disposing of the bones -- four tons in a good week -- and have a special machine that grinds them up. Problem is, they discovered that some of the bones they were grinding weren't chicken bones .....
       The man manning the machine is a former Yugoslavian football (soccer) star, who is now the goalie for the local provincial-division team -- and helps them to a sensational league cup victory over a second-division team, the biggest thing to happen in town in quite a while. He disappears too, and other body parts appear -- while the first one that went through the machine is still unidentified.
       Deep in the provinces, it can be hard to get a grasp on the different relationships and local personal history. Old man Löschenkohl has his reasons for being such a driven chicken-man, while his son seems largely good-for-nothing. There's a missing artist, too, whose paintings are suddenly worth a lot more now that he's apparently dead, and there's that whole former-Yugoslavia connexion, which extends to other businesses, not just past-their-prime footballers. And then there's the question of where the woman who hired Brenner is; try as he might, he doesn't run into her.
       The fun, as usual, is in the telling, Haas's usual roundabout approach fairly effective here, and the dry asides amusing. If there's a bit too much rushing about in fast cars (including to Vienna and back a couple of times), and maybe a few too many divergent interests involved (including the artist and the unusual turn of ... events around him, as well as a Yugoslavian call-girl), it's still a pretty decent tale. Not the best in the lot, but certainly good enough.

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Der Knochenmann: Reviews: Der Knochenmann - the film: Wolf Haas: Other books by Wolf Haas under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Austrian author Wolf Haas was born in 1960, and is best known for his series of Brenner-mysteries.

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