Sunday Review: Time Heals No Wounds

Time Heals No Wounds by Hendrik Falkenberg (translated by Patrick Brown)

4 stars

The subtitle announces this is part of the Baltic Sea Crime Novel series. It is actually the first, and it concerns Johannes “Hannes” Niehaus, newly promoted detective. He is assigned to his first case; a woman’s body has washed up on the beach of the Baltic Sea. Hannes is partnered with Fritz Janssen, an older detective who is quirky but gets results. Soon Niehaus and Janssen come across a bigger mystery involving a mute painter, a real estate broker, a pharmaceutical conglomerate which traces its origins to pre World War II Germany, and an “Anonymous”-like organization trying to make corporations atone for their Nazi past. There is also a sub-plot involving a young woman named Merle who has been kidnapped.

While Janssen as the old cop who doesn’t play by the rules sounds cliché, it doesn’t come across that way in the story and the resolution of the mystery does a good job of showing how the quirkiness is relevant. The subplot remains detached from the main story for the bulk of the novel, only resolving in the last few pages. But the reader will grasp at least part of the connection between the two plots much earlier than that. And by the end of the story, the reader will understand the book’s title.

The characters are well fleshed out, if not fully three dimensional. Some of Niehaus’s friends (whom he meets while trapped in a Ferris wheel) are a little stocky and seemed designed to show how the detective is still trying to find his way and assertiveness as a police officer. The story takes a little while to pick up steam, but not so difficult as to make you want to put the book down.

There is one odd moment in the story: Niehaus, Janssen and the leader of the anti-Nazi group have a discussion about the nature of capitalism. It doesn’t contribute to the plot and I can’t tell if this is scene is just to try to explain the characters’ view or if Falkenberg is injecting his own views on the dangers of capitalism. If it is the former, it doesn’t really advance the story in the main, though it does it indirectly and the plot point could have been done without the needless didactic. If it is the latter, it is the same sort of arguments usually heard in college dorm rooms around 3 am. It really is the only “What was the author thinking” moment in the novel.

This is apparently Falkenberg’s first novel. If that is true Falkenberg has a great gift and I am looking for to his subsequent novels. The book is translated from German by Patrick Brown. His translation is excellent. The mark of a good translator is for the reader not to realize the book has been translated from another language. Brown does a very good job and only once or twice did I come across a passage that felt like it was a translation.

If you like detective novels/police procedurals, you’ll like Time Heals No Wounds.

 

(**Note: I have an Amazon Prime account. As one of the benefits of the having said account, Amazon’s First Selection offers me a choice of one of the four books to own for free. That is how I obtained Time Heals No Wounds. This has no bearing on the review other than I had promised that I would tell you, the reader when I reviewed a book I did not purchase.)

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