Days of Atonement
Dunne, Apr 2008, $24.95
Bonaparte’s French forces occupy Prussia as it has for several years. Most villagers try to avoid the troops who need no reason to arrest someone. In Lotingen magistrate Hanno Stiffeniis knows the constant fear of incarceration or death although he is more concerned with his family’s safety than his own.
At a formal party Stiffeniis and French Colonel Lavedrine discuss criminology, which both has an interest in. The Prussian magistrate mentions applying philosopher Immanuel Kant’s classic Critique of Pure Reason to a case (see CRITIQUE OF CRIMINAL REASON), which excites the French officer. He asks Stiffeniis to help him investigate the ghastly murders of Prussian Major Bruno Gottewald’s three small children and the disappearance of his wife who Lavedrine believes was abducted and probably dead. The wife is soon found dead in a warehouse. Meanwhile Stiffeniis goes to inform and question Gottewald, but instead finds his murdered corpse. A family of five I killed in less than a week, but Stiffeniis cannot fathom why or who would commit such atrocities.
The second Prussian-French historical mystery is a superb thriller that hooks the audience from the moment the two criminologists talk about crime theory over dinner. The whodunit is fun to follow because of the sleuths as Stiffeniis and Lavedrine share prevalent theories of the Napoleonic Era on how to solve a murder mystery; they each bring their form of logic to the Gottewald family mass murders.