Monday, September 9, 2013

Review of Tretjak by Max Landorff (Haus Publishing, 2011 German, 2013 English)

Gabriel Tretjak lives his life in relation to a strict code designed to keep everything under perfect, ordered control.  The code minimizes complications and makes him very successful at what he does, which is to fix the problems in other peoples’ lives.  For a substantial fee he creates and executes solutions, rebuilding the personal and professional lives of his clients, whatever the situation or scandal.  In the past, Tretjak used the code to fix his own life after a troubled upbringing, and it seems as if he needs to do so again as someone undertakes a series of murders that all suggest he is the perpetrator.  The calm and clever Inspector Maler certainly believes so as he investigates the grizzly crimes.  Tretjak knows he is innocent, but someone seems to have out-fixed the fixer.  In order to counter the compelling evidence and stay out of jail he’s going to need one heck of a solution.

There’re relatively few untapped angles to the crime genre, with most stories falling into a set of established sub-genres and tropes.  Tretjak works ‘the fixer’ angle, but does so with a nice philosophical undertone that gives it freshness.  Tretjak is not the most likeable of characters, but Landorff does a good job of setting out his back story and exploring his various traits and neuroses over the course of the book as he reacts to the attempt to frame him for murder and the intervention of his estranged father.  The other principle characters also have depth and are nicely developed.  The plot for the most part works well, being layered and complex, with the philosophical elements providing some nice reflective moments.  However, there were a couple of dangling threads that were left unexplained and the resolution felt somewhat contrived, a little clunky, and was telegraphed from quite a way out.  The result was a slightly flat ending to a mostly thoughtful read.  Overall, an interesting, literary crime fiction story.

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