I was so tired. The night I was just going to read a chapter in Helen Grant’s book before going to bed, and then I found myself compelled to finish the whole thing, so my night was a lot shorter than expected. Scheisse.
Began reading this book on the plane to Germany, which felt a little strange when it turned out that the main character also used the same airport, and her home town of Bad Münstereifel was close to where I was heading. And it’s very refreshing with some light swearing in German. Offspring like to say Scheisse, and I’ve worked up quite a taste for it now, as well.
In fact, that’s one thing I like about this children’s crime novel, written in English, but set in Germany. There is plenty of real German, both in speech and description, and it adds to the story in a way I’ve missed in other books.
I was a little surprised to find The Vanishing of Katharina Linden reviewed in the adult crime section of the Guardian recently. But why not? The language is simpler than for an adult book, but not by much, and the main characters are children aged ten. The story, about disappearing school children in the small town of Bad Münstereifel, is quite complex and very interesting.
It’s a bit of a horror story, too, with lots of local history and legends. Pia and her new friend Stefan (who is only her friend because her Grandmother exploded) find themselves puzzled by the disappearance of first one, then several of their school friends, and decide to solve the mystery. It was sort of possible to work out who must have ‘done it’, but not how and why. It gets surprisingly tense and scary as you read on.
Bad Münstereifel is a chocolate box kind of town, with German style ‘Tudor’ houses. Everybody knows everybody else, and the place is choc-a-bloc with snooping old women who believe children should have good manners.
Helen Grant has been hand-picked by Puffin as an exceptional new talent, and that kind of thing generally brings me out in a rash, but with Helen they’ve got it just right.