Kreslehner, Gabi - 'Rain Girl' (translated by Lee Chadeayne)
A girl in the rain, is staggering along the autobahn, and killed when a car hits her. She just appeared out of nowhere. Franza and Felix are the investigating officers, and find evidence at the nearby rest stop that suggests the girl in the sparkly dress had been there beforehand. Had something happened to her there? Where had she come from? Who took here there? Did she lose one of her shoes in a struggle? Is the blood on the stones nearby hers? Was she attacked before she fell into the path of the car? Do the cigarette butts at the scene belong to the person who took here there? And, perhaps most importantly, who is she?
Franza has a complex home life. She is having an affair with Port, an up and coming actor, partly as a result of discovering that her husband Max had had his own affair. Her teenage son Ben has gone off somewhere without telling her where he has gone, just that he's gone away for a few days and not to worry. She is deeply affected by the crimes that she has to investigate.
Interspersed chapters tell of a friendship between Ben and Marie. Marie turns out to be the name of the missing girl. Is the Ben mentioned the Ben that is Franza's son? Does he have something to do with what happened to Marie? The story moves forward, as Franza and her colleagues find out more about Marie and her past, and start to piece together her life, who she was, what made her, why her life ended so tragically, and finally who was responsible.
This is a good, solid detective novel, with a well-told story, and plenty of characterisation and backstories to keep the reader engaged. The worries of both detectives about their respective families and personal life mirror their professional worries about the investigation. The pace is somewhat slow to begin with as the major obstacle to the investigation is finding the identity of the victim, but then picks up apace. A great, enjoyable read.
Michelle Peckham, England
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.