On Fridays, when European physicists Oskar and Sebastian get together for dinner at Sebastian’s peaceful canal-side home, a lot of high-minded banter ensues. The relationship between the two men and their competing views on the ability of science to describe our reality sets the stage for an all too real lesson in impermanence. Sounds like the setup to one of the best literary thrillers you’ll read this year, right?
Actually, yes, it is.
Sebastian is driving with his son, Liam, on the Autobahn when he stops at a service station. After a mysterious phone call, Sebastian returns to his car to find Liam is gone. And just as his son disappears, so does Sebastian’s intellectual and moral grounding. To reveal more would perhaps compromise the plot, but author Juli Zeh, winner of the German Book Prize, has packed quite a lot into this detective novel: quantum theory, love, uncertainty, and, of course, murder. Even the police seem to have a theory of relativity as Detective Chief Superintendent Schilf, whose investigation is more existential than procedural, eventually discerns the killer and then promptly schemes a plot to assist with that person’s defense.
In Free Fall is one of the most original examples of crime fiction in recent memory. Even more impressive that it is translated from the original German by Christine Lo. Do yourself a favor and pick this up.