Gwen Moffat lives in Cumbria. Her novels are set in remote communities ranging from the Hebrides to the American West. The crimes fit their environment, swelling that dreadful record of sin in the smiling countryside cited by Sherlock Holmes. The style echoes this: rustic charm masking horror.
This one is different from Guilt and The Collini Case.
Schirach is fascinated by the basics of photography: light, illusion, colour.
His latest novel is sectioned: Green, Red, Blue, White. He quotes one, Hermann
von Helmholz, who says that when mixed in equal proportions the first three
appear as white.
“Green” follows Sebastian von Eschburg, a German
aristocrat, through infancy and a disastrous boyhood to brilliant but haunted
success as an avant-gard photographer in modern Berlin. The section ends with
some attempt at exorcism when he confesses his hideous nightmares to his lover.
continues the horrors: sexual sadism, anguished pleas for help from a tormented woman, her blood on instruments - or
someone’s blood; the suspect confessing to the crime, himself subject to
torture in a police cell. The confessor is Sebastian.
is Biegler: reluctant attorney for the defence, a neurotic and droll workaholic, hilarious in
the alpine resort to which his doctor sends him after diagnosing burnout.
Biegler hates mountains, fresh air, tourists, and says so, rudely. In immediate
contrast the atmosphere at Sebastian’s trial for murder is surreal and fraught.
There has never been a trial like this with shades of truth and deception,
echoes of Guantanamo and 9/11, and where even the police are articulate.
last colour, the one that “seems to us to be white” is short: one page. It
depicts life as progress from illusion through nihilism to ultimate awareness
that no more is needed than to cast a line into a river and observe the colours
of an artificial fly.
book is a mirror presented by Schirach to reflect ourselves. Again it is ably translated
by Anthea Bell but the style this time is lost in the concentration needed to
work things out. As with all important books it benefits precisely from a