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Der Richter und sein Henker Kriminalroman by…
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Der Richter und sein Henker Kriminalroman (original 1952; edition 2014)

by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Anna Planta

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1,325168,890 (3.82)43
Member:Superzerg
Title:Der Richter und sein Henker Kriminalroman
Authors:Friedrich Dürrenmatt
Other authors:Anna Planta
Info:Zürich Diogenes [2014]
Collections:Bücher
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The Judge and His Hangman by Friedrich Dürrenmatt (Author) (1952)

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» See also 43 mentions

English (11)  German (2)  Italian (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (16)
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"The difference between humans and wild animals is that humans pray before they commit murder."
-Friedrich Dürrenmatt (1921-1990), Swiss novelist and dramatist

In his short review of this extraordinary novel, my good friend Mark Hebwood from London wrote: "Loved it! This is a bit like taking the essence of detective novels and distilling it down to concentrate. Great plot, excellent twists, and great finale. I immediately bought all other detective novels he wrote."

Thanks, Mark! Likewise, all Friedrich Dürrenmatt detective novels are now on my to-be-read list. And I’m not usually a fan of detective mysteries, to say the least - other than a handful of those old classics like Chandler’s The Big Sleep and Hammett’s The Thin Man, no dick fiction for me, thank you. But I am a big fan of tight, penetrating existential novels such as The Stranger and Nausea, and, let me tell you, The Judge and His Hangman is every bit as tight and as penetrating and as existential as these two French classics.

To say anything about plot more than a brief sketch would be to say too much since nearly every page contains subtle turns and developments that will keep a reader mesmerized from beginning to end. And that’s not overstatement as I’m not the only one to pass such a glowing judgement - literary critic and acclaimed author, Kay Boyle, likewise wrote how this Swiss novel holds the reader mesmerized. Usually I take my time with a novel but once I read the first page of The Judge and His Hangman I was hooked – I finished its one hundred pages in one evening, in one sitting.

Anyway, Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s work features old, stogy, fatally ill Commissioner Barlach working on the case of a murdered police officer. The location is in Switzerland, in and around the capital of Berne. There is an element of political intrigue; there’s tension between new school criminology and old-school, small town Barlach; there’s a string of intriguing characters, including a pompous Congressman-Colonel, a bureaucratic chief of police and, one of my personal favorites, a novelist. But, above all, there is the philosophic: the battle of good versus evil, nihilism versus any moral sense, and what it means to live an authentic human life. An absolute must read for anyone attracted to either existentialism or detective novels.


Berne, Switzerland, location of this Friedrich Dürrenmatt novel published in 1950 ( )
  Glenn_Russell | Nov 13, 2018 |
Synopsis/blurb.....

Inspector Barlach is dying. But not fast enough for his arch-enemy

When a member of the Bern police force is shot dead on a Swiss country road, the enigmatic Inspector Barlach and his colleague Tschanz are intent on tracking down the killer. But the ailing Inspector doesn't have time to lose. Soon the pair discover that the victim was murdered on his way to a clandestine party at the home of a wealthy power broker - so why was a local policeman socialising with some of Switzerland's most influential men? Who was his shadowy host? And why has Barlach's past returned to haunt him in his final hours?

The Judge and His Hangman is a thrilling tale of lifelong rivalry, and of two men chained together by a wager that would destroy them both.

Friedrich Dürrenmatt (1921-1990) was a Swiss author and dramatist, most famous for his plays The Visit and The Physicists, which earned him a reputation as one of the greatest playwrights in the German language. He also wrote four highly regarded crime novels: The Pledge (adapted for a 2001 film starring Jack Nicholson), Suspicion and The Execution of Justice, are also published by Pushkin Vertigo.
-------------------------
My take.....

My second time with Swiss author Friedrich Durrenmatt after enjoying The Pledge earlier this year. Thoughts here.
http://col2910.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/friedrich-durrenmatt-pledge-1958.html

This re-issue from Pushkin Vertigo is a slim offering at 128 pages long, but for my reading tastes the length is a plus. The murder of a policeman and the subsequent investigation is interesting though it takes us until over halfway to discover in fact that there is more going on than meets the eye.

Inspector Barlach is and has been battling a foe for over forty years, unsuccessfully thus far. He has a last opportunity to bring him down, before his own ill health does for him.

I liked Barlach as a character - his solitude, his methods, his irritation with his superior and his clever manipulations, orchestrating events and people like a puppet master to achieve the desired outcome. More than one way to skin a cat.

I'm not usually a massive fan of older books (pre-early 60s is where I draw the line), I'll happily make an exception for Durrenmatt.

A few more from him sit on the pile - The Visit, The Quarry, The Execution of Justice, Suspicion.

4 from 5

Read in August, 2017
Published 1954 originally (2017 re-issue from Pushkin Vertigo)
Page count - 128
Source - review copy from publisher
Format - paperback

https://col2910.blogspot.co.uk/2017/08/friedrich-durrenmatt-judge-and-his.html ( )
  col2910 | Aug 20, 2017 |
A very nice story. Told in a dry, matter of fact way, no superfluous words or actions.
Although the descriptions of the surroundings may be seen as such, they did not disturb me or keep me from the story itself.
The end surprised me, which doesn't happen very often with crime books. ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Sep 4, 2016 |
Hans Barlach is a 60 Police Commissioner in Berne, Switzerland who has been called upon to solve the murder of police Lieutenant Ulrich Schmied. Although knowledgeable in criminal investigative techniques in Istanbull and Germany, Barlach doesn’t like to look at murder victims nor read police reports. There is a feeling of mutual dislike between Barlach and his superior Dr. Lucius Lutz whose deference to Oskar von Schwendi, the lawyer for wealthy Gastmann, interferes with a criminal investigation. Barlach has been trying to bring Gastmann to justice for many years and fellow officer, Walter Tschanz is convinced Gastmann ordered the murder of Schmied. Barlach isn’t so sure and in his own methodical way sets a killer to catch the murderer. ( )
  ShelleyAlberta | Jun 4, 2016 |
Nice, undemanding read, Dürrenmatt's first detective story is among the earliest examples I've come across of an anti hero detective, deeply human, cynical, and savvy scholar of all sorts of human foibles. Perhaps at places this is too exaggerated, with the "old man" Bärlach, as the main protagonist is often described, manipulating the less experienced (e.g. his subordinate Tschanz) or the too arrogant (his superior Lutz) to fight the real battle against his arch enemy (no, I wont' spoil it for you), among the few people rounded enough, perceptive enough, wise enough to be confronted as an equal (the other being "the writer").

But as the story develops over about 100 pages, these are minor blemishes (and after all I felt disappointed with just two passages) soon forgotten as the plot develops logically, until the last unexpected twist. I don't think I would have picked this book up, had it not been for the fact that I've inherited a large and very diverse library, but I am pretty sure it won't be too long before I move to the next Dürrenmatt novel. ( )
1 vote PaolaM | Mar 31, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (74 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dürrenmatt, FriedrichAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Duquesnoy, TheoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Filippini, EnricoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lagossi, PaolaContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Staudinger, KarlIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevens, BertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Alphons Clenin, der Polizist von Twann, fand am Morgen des dritten November neunzehnhundertachtundvierzig dort, wo die Strasse von Lamboiing (eines der Tessenbergdörfer) aus dem Walde der Twannbachschlucht hervortritt, einen blauen Mercedes, der am Strassenrande stand.
On the morning of November 3rd, 1948, Alphonse Clenin, the policeman of the village of Twann, came upon a blue Mercedes car parked by the side of the highway where the road from Lamboing led out of the forest ravine of Twann.
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Aging and infirm Kommissr Brlach unexpectedly encounters an enemy from his past as he investigates the murder of a police officer. He suspects a fellow police officer committed the murder and wonders if he will kill again.

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