Ever since Stieg Larson’s Millenium trilogy hit it big, it seems like the mystery shelves have been flooded with a ton of imported mysteries and thrillers, all attempting to capture lighting in a bottle for a second time.
Of the translated thrillers I’ve read over the past couple of years, it’s Snow White Must Die that not only captured me and wouldn’t let go but also left me hoping that the rest of this series will get translated and published in America ASAP. Simply put, Snow White is one of the most entertaining and enthralling mystery novels I’ve read in a long time.
Over a decade ago, two girls with a romantic connection to Tobias Satorius went missing. Suspicion centered on Tobias, who experience a 24-hour blackout around the time of the disappearances, leading to Tobias’ conviction and ten year jail sentence. As he’s released from prison, Tobias returns home to find his parents estranged, his father’s business in ruin and the town unwilling to forget the crimes of which he was convicted.
When Tobias’ mother is assaulted on an overpass and put in the hospital and another young girl disappears, the town is only too ready to convict Tobias again in the court of public opinion. Enter police detectives Pia Kirchhoff and Oliver von Bodenstein who are summoned to the scene of the attack on Tobias’ mother and slowly begin digging into the details of the current crime and trying to unearth whether or not Tobias was actually guilty of the crimes a decade or more before.
While Snow White Must Die is clearly trying to hitch its wagon to the Girl With the… phenomenon, the novel reminded me more of the best works of Elizabeth George and Laura Lippman (who I feel are two of the best writers publishing today, mystery or otherwise). The team of Kirchhoff and Bodenstein reminded me a bit of the early days of Lynley and Havers in all the right ways. As the fourth book in the series featuring them and the rest of their team of detectives, I found myself yearning to spend more time getting to know these characters and see where their stories led next.
As for the mystery, it works fairly well for much of the novel, though I was able to discern some of the twists from the later half of the book before our detective heroes do. But that’s because the reader is clued into certain pieces of information and character moments before the detectives are. The only other drawback is several of the names in the novel are similar, creating some bit of confusion as to who is who in the early going, but this confusion is quickly left behind if you’re willing to invest a little time and attention to the novel.
And that won’t be a difficult thing to do. Snow White Must Die is a rewarding and compelling mystery thriller that had me eager to turn the next page and saying to myself, “Just one more chapter” at the close of each chapter. A solid mystery with some interesting detectives all adds up to a satisfying first American entry into this series. And one I hope that to visit again sooner rather than later.