Sure, this novella published in German in 1952 is showing its age, not just with all the smoking, but with the whole conceit of a master detective coming to the end of his life facing off against his nemisis, a master criminal who has evaded justice for a lifetime. But if you accept it as a story first, and a realistic slice of life second or not at all, then you can appreciate it as a morality play with an added level of philosophy. Just how far is an inspector justified in going in pursuit of justice? Does he have the right, let alone the ability, to act as judge and hangman of the accused? Of course he bloody does, and what a neat twist my favourite Swiss dramatist (I don’t know any others) pulls off. Dürrenmatt is still worth an evening or two of your time, even after all these years.
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No. 4 of 50 books I intend to read and review in 2022.
I’m Patrick Sherriff, an Englishman who survived 13 years working for newspapers in the US, UK and Japan. Between teaching English lessons at my conversation school in Abiko, Japan, I write and illustrate textbooks for non-native speakers of English, release Hana Walker mystery novels, short stories, paint, sketch and write essays and a monthly newsletter highlighting good fiction published in English about Japan.