The dying police inspector Barlach thinks that a surgeon practising in Switzerland may be a Nazi war criminal. He gets himself transferred from his friend’s hospital in Bern to the suspect’s institution, and a new kind of nightmare begins.
This superb and unusual mystery novel, first published in 1951/2, has been reprinted now by Pushkin Vertigo, an imprint republishing quality crime fiction of the 20th century. The publisher says Suspicion is “a genre-bending mystery recalling the work of Alain Robbe-Grillet and anticipating the postmodern fictions of Paul Auster and other contemporary neo-noir novelists.” I found it easy to read, but it also engages with the highly challenging subject matter in a thoughtful and interesting way. Dürrenmatt is not afraid of taking an intellectual and moral stance, which is important when dealing with torture and crimes against humanity.
Suspicion is beautifully written and translated. Dürrenmatt was also a playwright, with The Physicists being his most famous work. Despite the subject matter, this book is a perfect short holiday or travel read, and I would particularly recommend it to fans of Simenon or Lionel Davidson. I have already ordered all the other Inspector Barlach books that I can find. A new addiction has been born.