cover image The Hour of the Jackal

The Hour of the Jackal

Bernhard Jaumann, trans. from the German by John Brownjohn. John Beaufoy Publishing (Midpoint, dist.), $24.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-906780-42-5

Jaumann's police procedural (the first of his works to be translated into English) suffers from overly dramatic storytelling and clunky sentence structure, though the latter could be blamed on a poor translation. The book investigates a series of murders that all relate to the real-life 1989 assassination of Namibian independence leader Anton Lubowski. The heroine is the plucky Clemencia Garises, a 31-year old detective who is hot on the trail of the murderers. Throughout the book, Clemencia follows an anonymous killer plagued with a mysterious malady. Clemencia eventually deduces that the killer is suffering from a terminal illness, basing her conclusion on the weak supposition that such a "mixture of desperation, determination and utter ruthlessness" would only belong to someone without a future. A dramatic bedside confrontation, the release of an abducted spouse, and a passionate confession should lead to an intriguing story, but the awkward and affected writing style make this book a chore to get through. (Nov.)