cover image The Collini Case

The Collini Case

Ferdinand von Schirach, trans. from the German by Anthea Bell. Viking, $25.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-670-02652-4

Von Schirach, a prominent German advocate for the accused and author of two story collections (Guilt; Crime), disappoints with this present-day legal thriller, a “whydunit.” Fabrizio Collini, a toolmaker in his late 70s, pretends to be a reporter for an Italian newspaper when he calls on 85-year-old Jean-Baptiste Meyer, a German businessman, in his room at Berlin’s Hotel Adlon. Collini later confesses to shooting Meyer four times in the head, and then stamping repeatedly on Meyer’s face. Caspar Leinen, who has just begun work as a defense lawyer, accepts the case before realizing that Meyer’s real name is Hans Meyer, and that he’s an old friend; but Collini wants Leinen to stay on the case, despite this personal connection. Given the advanced ages of the two principals, readers will have no trouble guessing that the killer’s motive has something to do with WWII. Even the courtroom scenes lack genuine drama. (Aug.)