This is a fascinating book, written in the present tense from the perspective of Linda Conrads, a successful writer of fiction. Suffering from intense anxiety, ever since she came upon the murdered body of her sister 12 years ago; she has not left her house since, living the life of a recluse. She is looked after by Charlotte, who takes care of all her daily needs, and is visited by her literary agent; otherwise she sees nobody.
Then one day, while watching television, she sees a face that she recognises; it is a face that remains etched in the darkest edges of her consciousness – forever trapped in her memory. She recognises the face from her past. The face was of the man she saw fleeing, as she viewed her sister’s blood-stained body. She learns his name – Victor Lenzen - an investigative journalist.
The reclusive Linda Conrads then decides upon a plan.
Journalist Lenzen agrees to interview this mysterious writer for a feature; and so a trap is set. A prolonged battle of wits ensues, and this continues throughout the book.
It can’t be easy to write a full novel in the present tense; always inside Linda’s head, but Melanie Raabe succeeds, bestowing the narrative a deeply claustrophobic atmosphere. The translation from the German is equally successful, resulting in a beautifully written debut that conveys the inner anxiety of an agoraphobic; yet evoking an outwardly peaceful landscape, in stark contrast.
I hope that Melanie Raabe will continue to produce books of this quality, as this is a fine debut, and one that makes this reader ache for more.