Snow White Must Die by Nele Neuhaus

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Snow White Must Die Translated from the German by Steven T Murray

Five words from the blurb: girls, vanished, convicted, mystery, solved

Snow White Must Die is set in a small village near Frankfurt. Eleven years ago two teenage girls disappeared and 20-year-old Tobias was convicted of their murder, despite a lack of real evidence. After serving time in prison he returns to the family home, but the tight-knit community are upset by his release and begin a series of attacks on his family. Then another girl goes missing and Tobias becomes the prime suspect. The police and local residents soon realise that certain aspects of the case don’t add up and do everything possible to discover the truth, before things deteriorate further.

Snow White Must Die is a long book with plenty of twists and turns. The narrative complexity and the strong character development reminded me of Tana French and I’m sure that anyone who enjoyed In The Woods will appreciate this one.

Some aspects of the plot didn’t feel entirely realistic, but that can be forgiven in this genre. It had a compelling plot and managed to hold my attention throughout –  I especially liked the way the conclusion can be guessed if the reader pays attention to the clues sprinkled through the text.

At one point in the book I was disappointed by the portrayal of a character with autism and was planning a big rant in this post, but without spoiling anything I’ll just say that this was rectified in the end!

I read this book for German Literature Month but it didn’t feel very German. I’m not sure if this is a positive or a negative and I guess that depends on what you are looking for. It could have been set in any Western country and this universal nature means it will have broad appeal, but I felt it lacked a sense of place. I’d have liked to see more German culture in the book, but I’m probably in the minority.

Overall this was a solidly good piece of crime fiction. Nothing about it particularly stands out, but it was an enjoyable diversion while it lasted.

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Post Reading Note: After finishing the book I discovered that Snow White Must Die isn’t the first book in the series, but it is the first to be translated into English. I never normally read books out of sequence, but when reading this one I didn’t feel as though I was missing anything. In fact the police played a fairly minimal role in this book, with the main emphasis being on Tobias and the residents of the village. I’d be interested to read other books in the series and see if this improves my relationship with the Detectives.


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12 Comments

  1. Caroline says:

    I’ve read another one of her books and felt pretty much the same. Ive got this one too and may read it later this month. Although I’m more drawn to Charlotte Link.
    I thought it was quite German though, mostly because of the setting.

    1. Jackie says:

      Caroline, This book wasn’t outstanding, but entertaiing enough for me to want to read more from her. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this one and may try Charlotte Link at some point in the near future too.

  2. Lizzy Siddal says:

    It felt very German to me but then it is set in the area where I lived for many years. All needed for me was a sprinking of names and all the visuals came back in a flash.

    1. Jackie says:

      Lizzy, I think knowing the area would have a big impact on the images formed in your head when the names were mentioned. I’m familiar with Frankfurt, but the rest of the places meant nothing to me. There was very little description of the surroundings and nothing really specific to Germany. Perhaps I’m spoilt by reading a host of Icelandic crime fiction where the setting is very obvious throughout?

  3. I agree about the German setting but I think it was the translation that almost ruined the book for me; I thought it was lazy and cliched in places and I didn’t feel a sense of place as much as I would have liked either. Good book though – like you it held my attention to the end.

    1. Jackie says:

      The Book Whisperer, You might be right about it being the translation at fault. The translator could have deliberately given the book a universal feel so that it appealed to as wider audience as possible.

      I didn’t find it especially cliched – or perhaps I just expect that sort of thing in crime fiction!

  4. Sandy says:

    It sounds interesting, but honestly these days with mystery thrillers, they almost need to set themselves apart somehow. Being a good mystery isn’t enough, at least for me. I need it to surprise and shock me, and make me remember it above and beyond anything else I’ve read.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, I agree, but it is so hard to find the unique ones. We’ll keep trying though ;-)

  5. stujallen says:

    title sounds great but not overly sure it one I would get a lot from Jackie ,all the best stu

    1. Jackie says:

      Stu, I agree. Not sure it is for you!

  6. I enjoyed this one a lot overall, not the best crime novel I’ve read this year but a good one for me, and I did think it felt German, but maybe because it was around places where I’ve spent time. I did think the translation was very much US English.
    http://thelittlereaderlibrary.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/snow-white-must-die-nele-neuhaus.html

  7. BookLover says:

    I’ve read Snow White must die some time ago, in Croatian translation and it was pretty okay for me, not the best from the genre, but very good, I’d say. As I’ve read a few of thrillers, I’m planning to create a theme post on my blog, hope you’ll like it…

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