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Death and the Devil by Frank Schätzing

Death and the Devil (2003)

by Frank Schätzing

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (8)  German (5)  Italian (3)  Dutch (2)  Hungarian (1)  All (19)
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
I read this book about 10 years ago in German, and was fascinated by it; the first historical thriller set in Cologne that I read, I loved its closeness and exploration of Cologne's and its cathedral's history.
Now, I still love the story, but was a little disappointed by the English translation, the sublime humor didn't come across. ( )
  borhap | Aug 27, 2013 |
It is 1260 and the new cathedral of Cologne is beginning to dominate the skyline of the city. Jacob the Fox, a petty thief, is the only witness to the murder of the cathedral's architect and has to run for his life. Finding shelter and support with Richmodis von Weiden, her dyer father and her uncle Jaspar, the dean of St Mary Magdalene's and a physician, they uncover a conspiracy involving one of the city's wealthiest and most respected families.

This was an unexpected find in a bookshop while on holiday last year, and as I was born near Cologne and spent my formative years there, I just had to get it. I wasn't familiar with the author's name before and, dare I say it, I would wager that this is his first foray into the historical murder mystery genre. As such, it doesn't work terribly well, as the identity of the assassin and the conspirators is known from the start, and even though the intended second assassination target isn't revealed until the last 100 pages, I had guessed it well before that. The interest for the reader lies in the well constructed and researched atmosphere of medieval Cologne, which also covers recent history including the Seventh Crusade, the then current political scene and the philosophical and religious schools of thought prevalent at that time. With Jacob on the run from the assassin, the characters still have time for lengthy philosophical discussions and history lessons, something that felt a bit incongruous to me but which I enjoyed nevertheless. The characters are for the most part well drawn, even though I could have done without the love story angle.

If you like intelligent historical murder mysteries with the emphasis on the history and not the mystery, then I suggest you give this one a go. ( )
  passion4reading | Jul 16, 2012 |
Beautifully researched and presented in such a way as to keep me reading straight through until finished!

Like Ken Follet's "The Pillars of the Earth", one of the main characters of "Death and the Devil" is a cathedral. Unlike Follet's book, we are not taken through different generations to a conclusion but we are rather taken for an exciting ride of only a few days.

The characters are almost caricatures at the start. But Jasper driven by insatiable curiosity, and Jacob driven to undo what he perceives as an unforgivable sin both become heroes. It's quite an exciting trip that the reader is taken on as these two men come to grips with "Death and the Devil". ( )
  fglass | Nov 16, 2010 |
Spannender Mittelalterkrimi (Köln) mit gut recherchierten Hintergründen. ( )
  Matt1971 | Dec 3, 2008 |
A fascinating thriller set in Cologne of 1260, which works fantastically as a dramatized audio book. ( )
  pratchettfan | Jan 22, 2008 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Frank Schätzingprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cervini, EmanuelaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061349488, Hardcover)

It's the year 1260 and the great cathedral - the most ambitious building in all of Christendom - is rising above the streets of Cologne. Far below its soaring spires and flying buttresses, an assassin of unnatural talent surveys his new hunting ground. More shadow than man, the assassin is quick to take his first life. But there is a witness to his crime: a flame-haired thief known as Jacob the Fox. Justly terrified by the black-clad spectre, Jacob runs for his life, convinced that he's pursued by the Angel of Death itself. For all his street-smart cunning, the wily Fox cannot shake off the assassin - a cruel, efficient murderer who favours a pistol-grip crossbow as his weapon of choice. Fate, injury and desperation lead Jacob to seek help from a beautiful clothes dyer, her drunken rascal of a father, and her learned uncle, a man of God who loves a battle of wits almost as much as he loves a bottle of wine. With the threat of an untimely death at the end of a crossbow bolt never far way, Jacob's unlikely cabal find themselves faced with a conspiracy born of an unquenchable thirst for revenge, a conspiracy that threatens to tear Cologne apart and stain the city with blood.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:23 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The author uses the death of real-life architect Gerhard Morart, the designer of the cathedral of Cologne, as his starting point for this compelling historical suspense novel. Work on what would become the most famous church in Germany has been underway for a dozen years in 1260 when Morart falls from the unfinished building's roofmurdered, in the author's fictional scenario, as the result of a shadowy conspiracy. Unfortunately for the plotters, Jacob the Fox, a thief known for his fiery red hair, witnesses the act and actually hears the victim's dying words, leading the murderers to target Jacob and anyone he might have spoken to. The main mystery revolves around the motives of the plotters, whose identities aren't kept secret… (more)

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