German thriller’s at home in America

Oline H. Cogdill / Sun Sentinel (South Florida) /

“Snow White Must Die” by Nele Neuhaus; Minotaur (374 pages, $24.99)

An exciting residual of the popularity of Stieg Larsson’s dragon-tattooed girl is that international crime fiction has become more attractive and accessible to U.S. publishers and readers.

“Snow White Must Die” by German author Nele Neuhaus quickly became a best-seller in Europe when it was released in 2010. It is just now being published in the United States and its engrossing plot, intriguing characters and unpredictable twists should make it a rival for the acclaim that Larsson and other Scandinavian authors have amassed.

Although translated into English from German, the adaptation seems flawless. “Snow White Must Die” is a powerful psychological tale of how the murder of two teenage girls a decade ago continues to reverberate through a small community.

More than 11 years ago, two teenage girls vanished from the close-knit German village of Altenhain. Although their bodies were never found, 20-year-old Tobias Sartorius was convicted on circumstantial evidence. Now released after 10 years in prison, Tobias’ return to his hometown is anything but smooth.

Neuhaus explores a large cast of characters with depth and compassion. No one here is entirely evil, nor entirely good. The book moves at a brisk clip, delivering a gripping universal story. While Neuhaus includes myriad details that are unique to Germany, the novel could easily have taken place in any small town in America.

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