Friday, 27 February 2009

The Power of German Crime Fiction

The German and Italian papers have seized on a fascinating story. The German crime writer Veit Heinichen lives in Triest, Italy, where he also sets his Commisssario Laurenti detective novels. These are hugely popular in Germany, even being televised, and are also translated into Italian. His latest is just out, entitled Die Ruhe des Stärkeren. I only know this one (as I've seen it on TV), but they seem to be all about murder and corruption and involvement with eastern European gangsters. And they're generally very well received, with Heinichen considered a great intellectual and clever writer.

But that's not what the press is excited about. At some point last week, Heinichen published an open letter in his local left-leaning paper, Il Piccolo. My Italian isn't good enough to find said letter online, but apparently it exposes an unknown serial letter-writer who is attempting to ruin the author's reputation. Over 100 anonymous letters to various people in Triest and elsewhere accuse Heinichen of child abuse, and of political corruption back in Germany. The police have cleared him of all suspicion but have not been able to find the letter-writer over the past year.

Heinichen himself suspects he has angered the nationalist right-wing in Triest, as some of his books explore actual unsolved cases and he has openly supported the city's former liberal government. He is also a vocal contributor to local debates, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Must be a rather strange feeling - a threat but at the same time confirmation that you're at least doing something right. And what a coincidence that the author revealed the case just days after his book came out.

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