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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Silentium !

Wolf Haas

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To purchase Silentium !

Title: Silentium !
Author: Wolf Haas
Genre: Mystery
Written: 1999
Length: 208 pages
Original in: German
Availability: Silentium ! - Deutschland
Silentium ! - France
  • Silentium ! is the fourth in the P.I.-Brenner series
  • Silentium ! has not yet been translated into English
  • Silentium ! was made into a film in 2004, directed by Wolfgang Murnberger and starring Josef Hader as Simon Brenner

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Our Assessment:

B : enjoyably presented

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Falter . 26/5/1999 Christoph Braendle

  From the Reviews:
  • "Haas' Methode verkommt zur Marotte. Selbstverständlich gibt es auch in Silentium! große Passagen. Und es gibt Ideen, die sitzen. Aber dann geht's wieder dahin wie in diesen schauderhaften Gebrauchsanweisungen für Geräte aus Taiwan." - Christoph Braendle, Falter

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Silentium ! takes private investigator Simon Brenner to Salzburg, dominated by the Catholic Church and the Salzburg Festival, both of which figure prominently in the book. He's been brought to investigate a case at the Marianum, the prime, Church-run boarding school for boys looking to become priests, and, as usual, he's staying onsite. The case involves -- no surprise -- a possible sex scandal, but Haas is rarely predictable, and though a sex scandal does eventually figure very prominently in the story it's not at all the expected one (i.e. priests molesting young boys).
       As so often, Haas' approach is roundabout, and here he has a lovely set piece that leads to the discovery of the first murder, a tense game of table football that only eventually yields its very unexpected result. Typical, too, is the off-hand way in which Haas conveys that they caught the guy who did it quickly -- or rather, in what condition (let's just say: he ain't talking, either).
       There's an overlap of milieus here: the peculiar hierarchy of the Church-run school, and then the haute monde around the festival (which is, in fact, a mix of high and not quite so high society). Needless to say, Brenner sticks out like a fairly sore thumb when he attends a Festival show or party (and isn't much more at home in the Marianum either).
       Hints of catastrophe come, as usual, practically as asides, as when Haas just slips in the thought that: "Eventuell, dass die drei anderen dann am Leben geblieben wären, dass könnte ich mir vorstellen" ('That the other three might possibly have remained alive, I can imagine that') in a cause-and-effect passage about whether or not one of the characters will attend a event.
       Haas spins out a decent mystery, and quite a few parts are very entertainingly presented. As Haas notes of Brenner, getting to the point is not his strong point and he is very rarely direct ("er hat sich gern ein bisschen im Nebensächlichen verzettelt" ('he liked to lose himself in secondary things')), but that's also much of the appeal of the Brenner-books, which seem to lose themselves in the secondary and incidental as well, before Brenner finds himself right in the thick of things again.
       Another entertaining volume in the series.

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Silentium !: Reviews: Silentium ! - the film: Wolf Haas: Other books by Wolf Haas under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Austrian author Wolf Haas was born in 1960, and is best known for his series of Brenner-mysteries.

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