Süden und die Schlüsselkinder made me feel so “meh” that I wasn’t even sure whether I wanted to review it at all.
But hey, I guess this is all about sharing the not-so-awesome reading experiences, too. I’d read about this mystery novel in various places just before Christmas last year when it came out. It was praised pretty much everywhere as not “just” a mystery but one with literary quality. Here’s a quick synopsis of what it’s about.
Just before Christmas, 10 year-old Adrian runs away from his children’s home in Munich. The person charged with looking for him is former policeman-gone-private-sleuth Tabor Süden, who is quite the sad, depressed dude. He is “aided” by Adrian’s friend Fanny, who’s receiving text messages from Adrian on her mobile. Süden und die Schlüsselkinder takes you into the supposedly bleak pre-Christmas world of those who do not have a family or friends to sit around the Christmas tree with on Christmas Eve. The way it was depicted in the critiques I’d read, it sounded like it could be deep and exciting at the same time, and therefore worthwhile.
Except I couldn’t bring myself to care about any of the characters. Not about Tabor Süden – I felt like his depression was too old manly and self-centred for me to empathise (oh, he’s just such a poor, lonely, old drunk. Sob. Not.). Not about Adrian – although we learn about his background and the horrible people he was surrounded by prior to his stint at the children’s home, you don’t really get to know the kid. Not about Fanny – though smart and occasionally quite sweet in her own way, she also annoyed me quite a lot. And of course not about the novel’s other adults (mainly parents and educators), who – from the point of view of the children and also the reader – don’t “get” anything that’s really going on.
I also didn’t think the book was particularly “literary”. Most of the time, it actually seemed quite shallow. Plus, it wasn’t even exciting – not a trace of tension throughout the book. Except for maybe one scene, which I won’t tell you about here, just in case you do decide to read the book despite my review – I don’t want to ruin the one and only exciting part for you. I definitely don’t concur with all those critics heaping praise on it. Frankly, I was almost bored to tears. Thankfully, it’s such a quick read that the boredom was over after reading about an hour and a half in total distributed over two days, or else I wouldn’t have finished.
Apparently – I hadn’t realised this before actually buying the book – this is part of a whole series about Tabor Süden. Well, I won’t be rushing to read any more of those.
Evaluation: 3/10 (it’s not that the book is totally horrible. It just left me completely cold)
There are no other language editions of this, or any of the other Süden mysteries. If you don’t read German, you will be spared from at least this source of boredom.