Saturday, 17 November 2012

Book review : The Collini Case - Ferdinand von Schirach

"Already a top-selling author in Germany and Italy, with over 1.25 million copies sold, Ferdinand von Schirach’s beautifully written literary crime novel The Collini Case, is seamlessly interwoven with fascinating historical context that will leave you dazzled." Such was the blurb on the press release accompanying the rather mysterious-looking novel that I plucked from my to-be-reviewed shelf recently.

The book starts with a violent but seemingly motiveless murder. This is certainly no cat-and-mouse crime thriller though. The murderer - the Collini of the title - gives himself up and sits quietly in the hotel lobby until the police com and get him. The quest in this book is not for the perpetrator but rather his motive - where did all that hate come from ?

The search for the truth, which the arrested man has no intention of giving to his defence lawyer, is long and laborious and Leinen, the totally green lawyer, goes around in circles getting nowhere fast. Unfortunately, as a reader, I felt the same. The book is short - just over 200 pages - but seemed a lot longer because of the lack of action.

Then, as often happens in real life, there is a breakthrough, the lawyer fits the sketchy details that he has together and the totally unexpected turn of events electrifies the courtroom. I won't tell you what the lawyer discovers or it will spoil the book for you but it goes beyond the destiny of one sole man, questioning the definition of right and wrong now and in the past.

The latter third of the book, after the breakthrough,  is very interesting and thought-provoking, but I did find that the slow pace of the beginning of the novel detracted from my enjoyment of it. It is interesting to learn that the author, Ferdinand von Schirach, is one of Germany's most prominent defence lawyers and his own family history rather echoes the events of those in the trial. You can find out more at but I would suggest you don't go there until you've finished reading the book.

star rating : 3.5/5

RRP : £12.99

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Michael Joseph (13 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718159195
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718159191
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 14 x 2.8 cm

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Book review : The Death Sculptor - Chris Carter


  1. My mum and dad love these type of books and I was trying to find a book to buy them for xmas so maybe I will choose this