A Visible Darkness
Prussia has been overrun by Napoleon’s forces, and the Emperor’s troops have discovered a new source of funds there: enough amber to finance France’s wars. But their plans stall when the girls who collect the stones begin to disappear, only to be found gruesomely disfigured by an unknown killer. The French call upon Prussian investigator Hanno Stiffeniis, who must seek out the culprit knowing that his own success may doom his country's future.
“It’s my favourite Hanno Stiffeniis novel,” says Daniela.
What the critics say...
Hanno Stiffeniis is in the shit. The streets of the procurator's hometown of Lotigen, Prussia, are deep in cow dung, the result of the invading French army's requisition of the local slaughterhouse. In the hot summer of 1808, Steffanis is midway through a case he hopes will clean up the mess when he is summoned to the shores of the Baltic to investigate something murkier still. The French have requisitioned the region's premier asset, amber, as well as the local girls who gather it from the treacherous sea. Now these women are turning up dead, each butchered for a different body part. Are the French trying to set up a Prussian scapegoat, or could this be the work of rebels, following a diabolical philosophy inspired by primordial beasts trapped in the amber itself? The husband-and-wife team who write as Michael Gregorio have a Pythonesque way of rendering the grotesquery of the past. Grand Guignol fun.
Cathi Unsworth, The Guardian.