In our January Book of the Month Silver Pebbles, the prequel to Friedrich Glauser Prize-winner The Basel Killings, police inspector Peter Hunkeler follows a clutch of stolen diamonds up the food chain of the European drug trade.
An elegant young Lebanese man carrying diamonds in his bag is on the train from Frankfurt to Basel, a drug mule on the return journey. At the Basel train station, Hunkeler is waiting for him after a tipoff from the German police, but the courier manages to flush the stones down the public toilets. Erdogan, a young Turkish sewage worker, finds them in the pipes under the station. To him they mean wealth and the small hotel he always wanted to buy near his family village. To his Swiss girlfriend Erika, the jewels signify the end of their life together. She knows that Erdogan has a wife and children in Turkey.
For the courier, finding the stones is a matter of life and death. His employers are on their way to “tidy things up”. For Hunkeler they are the key to finding the people behind the drug trade. These turn out to include not only the bottom-feeding drug gangs but bankers and politicians very high up the Basel food chain.
This is a tale of ordinary people accidentally caught in a vortex of crime, like Hank and Jacob in A Simple Plan by Scott Smith or even Guy Haines in Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith. Unusually, and refreshingly, no one gets killed.
Praise for Hansjörg Schneider:
“Ideal for anyone who enjoys reading about detectives like Martin Beck, Wallander or even Maigret.” – CrimeFictionLover
“As always, Schneider’s language, with its clarity and sense of calm, is a joy.” – Spiegel
Silver Pebbles is out now from Bitter Lemon Press (9781913394622, p/b, £8.99)