–> David’s Revenge by Hans Werner Kettenbach (Anthea Bell – Translator)
While writers as far back as Poe have crafted crime stories centered on a narrator with a guilty conscience, few have done so as subtly as Kettenbach in this novel of psychological suspense. Seven years earlier, while visiting Tbilisi, Georgia, “senior schoolteacher” Christian Kestner nearly seduced the attractive wife of publishing agent David Ninoshvili. Now Ninoshvili writes Kestner to announce his impending arrival in Germany to attempt to get his country’s literature published in translation, reawakening Kestner’s fears that the Georgian found out he was nearly cuckolded and is plotting revenge. Ninoshvili soon insinuates himself into the Kestner household, which includes Kestner’s attorney wife, Julia, and their loutish son, Ralf, who has unsettling associations with right-wingers. Action junkies may find the pacing slow, but others will appreciate the patient, deliberate unfolding of the plot.
The second in what Zeltserman calls his “bad-ass out of prison” trilogy, though less compelling than its predecessor, Small Crimes, is superior to his by-the-numbers Bill Shannon series (Bad Thoughts, etc.). In the nicely gritty opening section, South Boston thug Kyle Nevin, just out of prison after an eight-year stretch, has a long list of scores to settle, headed by his old boss, Red Mahoney, who he believes betrayed him. Nevin wastes little time before busting heads and jumping into the sack with a saleswoman with an appetite for bad boys. Hoping to solve his money problems with a kidnapping, Nevin persuades his brother to join him on condition that the victim not be harmed. Things head south rapidly after the child turns out to be a hemophiliac and dies after a tooth is extracted to be sent to the parents, and a treacherous middleman snatches the $2 million ransom. A slide into broad parody at the end doesn’t do the forceful beginning justice.