Collini Case - Ferdinand von Shirach
Our meetings: will be held by Zoom for the foreseeable future, for those members who can access this. As it's more difficult to get hold of the chosen book now, any Book Club member is invited to email in notes of their own reading, which will be circulated to those members on email.
The Collini Case by Ferdinand von Schirach
A legal thriller/ murder trial/ courtroom drama based on the author’s own grandfather’s story of when he was the leader of Hitler Youth during WW2. It starts with a murder with no apparent motive, as Fabrizio Collini walks into a hotel in Berlin posing as a journalist, kills a man in cold blood and waits for the police. A young defence attorney, Caspar Leinen, picks up the legal aid case, discovers that he knew the victim, but keeps the case on. Gradually we learn more details and the progress of the case, which appears clear-cut at the beginning but turns out far from it.
The language used could be described as ‘sparse’, ‘spare’, ‘taut’, and ‘objective’, with ‘dispassionate’ descriptions which leave the reader to imagine the rest, and is all the more effective for that.
The group discussed we might have done under those circumstances. Would we have acted in ways that, away from those pressures, we abhor as inhumane.
We came to the conclusion that people are generally not completely good or evil, but instead fall into shades between white and black. People may have a bad episode, but still be a thoroughly nice person otherwise. Many of those in the novel would have slipped back into mainstream life with no later comeback. It must be difficult to accept that someone you love very much was not always the person you thought they were. Some people can compartmentalise their lives.
One member had enjoyed this author’s book of short stories, "Guilt".
Marks out of ten: ranged from 8 to 9, with an average of 8.6
Recommend to a friend: definitely, but perhaps in happier times.
We also enjoyed some light topical poems by Brian Bilston.