Title: Snow White Must Die
Author: Nele Neuhaus
Release Date: January 15, 2013
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Crime Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Tobias Sartorius has returned to his hometown after eleven years away. Ten years in jail, ten years paying for a crime he didn’t commit. He doesn’t remember what happened the night two seventeen-year-old girls, Tobias’ girlfriend and her friend, went missing. But now, Tobias is ready to settle back into his life, only he finds that things have inexorably changed. His father is shunned, and the townspeople aren’t happy to have him back. When a violent attack brings Tobias to the attention of Detective Pia Kirchhoff, she wonders about Tobias’ guilt, especially in light of the dark secrets the town hides.
Snow White Must Die is an unpredictable mystery that doesn’t follow normal conventions. The puzzle of what happened to the two girls all those years ago is at the center of the novel, but there are so many more questions. Why was Tobias implicated in their deaths? Why can’t he remember what happened that night, if he’s innocent? And how is Tobias connected to an attempted murder that occurred miles from where he was, on the day he was released from prison? There are so many questions in this novel, and Neuhaus reveals the answers at his own pace. It makes for an exciting read, as readers won’t want to put down this twisty tale.
One of the main themes of Snow White Must Die is the dynamics of small town life. Set in a small town near Frankfurt, Germany, it captures the closed nature and difficult internal politics of village life. These people are a unit, and Tobias, the police, and the rest of Germany are on the outside. There are some difficult attitudes ingrained in the town, which Neuhaus explores with skill and grace. Not only is this a thrilling read, it’s a thought provoking one that will leave readers pondering long after finishing its last pages.
The atmosphere of Snow White Must Die is also part of its charm. It doesn’t exactly have the cold nature of a Scandinavian thriller, yet it’s wholly different than American crime fiction. It has its own flavor; Neuhaus sets himself apart from other writers with this novel. The pacing of this novel is also unique. At times it feels almost slow, but then it speeds up with twist after twist; it means that readers won’t know what to expect from one page to the next. It’s nice that Neuhaus does take the time to carefully develop his characters, and they aren’t sacrificed in order to keep the plot moving at the fastest clip possible.
If you’re looking for a novel you’ll want to read in one sitting, Snow White Must Die is a great choice. Neuhaus balances his many plotlines and characters like an expert; this book will only leave you clamoring for more. This novel is actually the fourth in a series; the first three haven’t yet been released in the United States, but I certainly hope they will be soon, as I would love to read more and Pia and her partner, Oliver.