THE BOOKSELLER NEWS
in the European melting pot
by Benedicte Page
first of a planned series of six crime novels set in the German
city of Hamburg, Hauptkommissar Jan Fabel investigates a disturbing
and extremely violent series of killings. In each instance, the
lungs have been ripped from the victim's body in imitation of an
ancient Viking rite.
But as Fabel investigates, it becomes clear that something more
complex than the work of a single psychopathic individual is taking
place; a complex and carefully researched tale, Blood Eagle invokes
modern Hamburg's criminal underworld and sex industry, and terrorist
activities past and present.
spent a brief period as a policeman himself before developing a
career as a copywriter.
"Of all the European nationalities, German is the one that
we still portray in this stereotypical, 'Allo, Allo' image. Our
impressions of the Germans seem to begin and end with the Second
felt was that no one had written an intelligent novel about contemporary
Germany. I have a lot of very close friends in Germany and have
spent a great deal of time there. Hamburg as a setting is so atmospheric,
it's the perfect place to set crime novels.
"There are strong links between Germany and the east coast
of Scotland, both linguistically in terms of the Scottish dialect,
and with the character of the people.
"Very briefly, a long time ago, I was a policeman. After having
a reasonably sheltered home life, I wanted to broaden my experience
and see another side of life. In the police I saw things I'd never
seen before; it wasn't necessarily a positive experience - I used
to get very distressed about many things.
"But from the very beginning, the Hamburg police have supported
this novel - they feel it's authentic. I've called up the police
reports, and been able to track the relevant levels of activity
of the various immigrant gangs. Everything I mention is based on
"Hamburg is the second biggest port in Europe, and a link from
east to west. It's got a transient population and is so cosmopolitan;
it's got 95 consulates, which is more than any other city in the
world, apart from New York. It's a melting pot of nationalities
in the heart of Europe.
"You could almost argue that the Second World War was caused
by Germany's struggle to find an identity, and it's still struggling
to find an identity. What I wanted to explore was the myths that
the Germans have about themselves, and dig deep into European culture
and mythology. The whole 'blood eagle' ritual was just so great.
"Fabel studied medieval history and was diverted into the police
through a tragedy - his girlfriend was murdered. Fabel literally
means 'fable', and I chose the name because all the novels have
this either mythological or historical element to them.
"I feel very strongly that the crime novel is more intelligent
than it has ever been, and more demanding than it has ever been.
I think we're looking for something complex and stretching."