Critique Of Criminal Reason
‘Observe, Stiffeniis. It slid in like a hot knife cutting lard.’ So begins Michael Gregorio’s chilling story of murder at a time when the scientific detection of crime was in its infancy. It is 1804, and young country magistrate Hanno Stiffeniis is mysteriously called into the Prussian city of Konigsberg to investigate a series of random brutal killings. Once there he finds the city in uproar with the general public convinced that the devil is at work. Rioting on the streets is becoming a distinct possibility. At first unable to understand why such a minor official has been ordered to head the investigation, Hanno soon finds himself drawn into a whirlwind of death and destruction. The only light at the end of the tunnel is offered by a man Hanno greatly admires, the philosopher Immanuel Kant.
Hanno’s work is clouded by his own demons, and it seems that many people he meets are determined to muddy the waters still further. No one is quite who they seem, and even Professor Kant’s involvement might not be as impartial as expected. With his dour assistant Koch to aid him, Hanno is unwavering in his resolution to solve the case only to find himself a target for the killer. It soon becomes clear that the reason for his own summons to Konigsberg is more sinister than he first realised.
Critique of Criminal Reason is a marvellously atmospheric thriller in which the dark and dangerous streets of Konigsberg are evocatively brought to chilling life. Grotesque characters march through the pages, shedding light and blurring truth in equal measure. Reason and logic fight with superstition and random violence for the upper hand, and it is never clear which side is going to win. This is the first in a proposed series of crime novels set to feature Hanno Stiffeniis, and if this opener is anything to go by, lovers of detective fiction are in for a rare treat.
395 (UK), 400 (US)