cover image The Russian Donation

The Russian Donation

Christoph Spielberg, trans. from the German by Gerald Chapple. AmazonCrossing, $14.95 trade paper (349p) ISBN 978-1-61218-430-2

Spielberg’s stellar series kickoff, which won Germany’s Friedrich Glauser prize for best debut crime novel, introduces reluctant detective Felix Hoffmann, “a Don Quixote in scrubs,” who’s been an attending ER physician for eight years at a Berlin teaching hospital. Half a year earlier, soon after Hoffman treated Misha Chenkov, a Russian on the hospital’s cleaning staff, apparently successfully, Chenkov disappeared. Now, Hoffmann, who was looking forward to watching a soccer game on TV, is called at short notice to cover for a colleague on the night shift. His first case is Chenkov, whose skin looks yellow. The patient quickly expires—or was he DOA? Hoffmann, doubtful that Chenkov died of natural causes, thinks that something more alarming is at play. Disappearing medical records only heighten his suspicions. Hoffmann and his girlfriend, Celine, make a winning investigative pair, and his endearing persona elevates this well above the majority of hospital-based mysteries. (Jan.)