Glauser, Friedrich - 'The Chinaman' (translated by Mike Mitchell)
THE CHINAMAN is the fourth in the Sergeant Studer series with the previous three also having been published by Bitter Lemon Press. First published in a newspaper in 1938 and then in book form in 1939, this edition is the first time it's been available in English.
Told to go to the small village of Pfrundisberg to investigate the suspicious death by gunshot wound of a man named Farny, Studer discovers it is the same man he'd spoken to some months before, who believed it was quite possible that he was going to be murdered.
Studer would later refer to the case as "the story of the three locales: in a village in, in a poorhouse, in a horticultural college". Farny lived in the inn and one of his nephews was studying at the college. Farny's body was found atop the grave of the poorhouse warden's wife who had recently died after a sudden illness. Is there a connection between the two deaths? Aided by Farny's other nephew Studer gets to the bottom of the puzzle but not before another tragic death.
This is a charming series full of wry humour and Studer is a clever investigator whose rank of mere sergeant is as a result of a demotion for an earlier political faux pas. The plot is taxing enough and uses the classic structure of a small village and limited suspects. The translation by Mike Mitchell feels fresh and fluid and allows readers to easily visualise the setting of seventy years ago as well as the characters living there.
Karen Meek, England