Kate Atkinson – Weiter Himmel

Kate Atkinson – Weiter Himmel

Die Gattinnen und Kinder von Tommy, Andy und Steve führen ein Dasein im Luxus, wirklich hinterfragt, wo das ganze Geld herkommt, vor allem das Bargeld, haben sie nie. Die Männer gehen halt Geschäften und dem Golfen nach und sind offenbar erfolgreich dabei. Aber es gibt eine alte Verbindung zu zwei Kriminellen, deren Netzwerk schon vor Jahren aufgedeckt wurde und das jetzt durch Ronnie Debicki und Reggie Chase, zwei junge Detectives, nochmals untersucht wird. Just in diesen Ermittlungen fällt ihnen die Leiche von Wendy vor die Füße, deren Gatte Vince so etwas wie der vierte Mann im Bunde ist. Das erfolgreiche Geschäftsmodell droht nun doch aufzufliegen während Crystal, Tommys Frau, sich verfolgt und bedroht fühlt, weshalb sie den Privatermittler Jackson Brodie engagiert. Es muss im Zusammenhang mit ihrem früheren Leben stehen, das ist der biederen Hausfrau Crystal klar, jenem Leben, von dem niemand etwas wissen soll und das sie selbst auch lieber vergessen würde.

Bereits zum fünften Mal lässt Kate Atkinson den melancholischen Privatdetektiv Jackson Brodie im der Grafschaft Yorkshire ermitteln. Wie auch zuvor schon beginnt „Weiter Himmel“ gänzlich unspektakulär für ihn, bis er sich in einer hochkomplizierten Angelegenheit wiederfindet. Der Leser ist ihm durch die Eingangsszene und das Wissen um Atkinsons herausragende Fähigkeit zu zirkulärer Erzählweise, die sich erst im Laufe der Handlung offenbart, einen Schritt voraus und ahnt, dass es einmal mehr ein großartiges Vergnügen werden wird, die unzähligen losen Enden und Figuren miteinander zu verknüpfen.

Das beschauliche Leben in der Provinz ist vieles, jedoch nicht so friedvoll wie es scheint. Die idyllische Kulisse bietet vor den Augen aller die optimalen Bedingungen für grausame, menschenverachtende Geschäfte. Jedoch sind Tommy, Andy und Steve nicht die kaltblütigen Verbrecher, die schonungslos ein Kartell führen. Atkinson zeichnet sie liebevoll auch als Familienmenschen mit ihren Schwächen und Enttäuschungen im Leben. Vince noch mehr als das Trio ist gebeutelt von der Scheidung, in der er gerade steckt, als sich das Problem durch das Ableben seiner Frau von alleine löst – wenn er jetzt nicht gerade der Hauptverdächtige wäre, was ganz neue Komplikationen mit sich bringt.

Jackson Brodies Arbeit ist auch weit davon entfernt spektakulär gefährlich und spannend zu sein, viel zu oft steht er vor banalen Alltagsherausforderungen. Eine absurde Gemengelage, in der mir insbesondere die beiden Detectives unglaublich gut gefallen haben. Mit trockenem Humor und messerscharfem Verstand verfolgen sie ihre Ermittlungen und haben mich mehr als einmal auflachen lassen. Es ist genau dieser Ton zwischen abgeklärtem Sarkasmus, pragmatischer Menschlichkeit und Bodenständigkeit, der grausame Themen wie Menschenhandel und Mord – auch dank unglaublicher Zufälle – in bemerkenswerter Leichtigkeit präsentiert.

Aus unzähligen Puzzleteilen entsteht langsam ein komplexes Geflecht an Figuren und ein cleverer Plot, den aufzudecken schlicht große Unterhaltung ist.

Belinda Bauer – Exit

Belinda Bauer – Exit

Felix Pink works as a so called Exiteer which means he accompanies people during their last hours to decently transit from this to another world. Normally, they work in pairs and so far everything has gone quite smoothly. They do not leave any clues about their presence and don’t use their real names even with their colleagues. When Felix is called to his next client, it is his first job together with Amanda who is new to the business. When they have accomplished their task, a bit more demanding since the old man this time seems to have become reluctant to die in the last second, they are about to leave the house. At this moment, somebody shouts for them, obviously, they haven’t been alone in the house as expected, but there was a witness – waiting for them to assist his suicide. Felix and Amanda have made a huge mistake and have to face reality: they have just killed somebody and the police are already on their way.

“He had made a terrible mistake, but hoped there was a good reason why. He just hadn’t found it yet.”

I was first allured by the idea of the Exiteer business since assisted suicide has been fiercely discussed and surely isn’t an easy topic. However, Belinda Bauer’s novel turned out quite differently than expected. From the rather serious and gloomy start, an incredible plot develops which is full of fine irony and humour, wonderful characters who are diligently drawn and all the absurdities life can offer.

“‘Bloody hell,’ said Pete. ‘I did not see that coming.’ Calvin thought that spoke well of Pete, because you’d have to be pretty sick to see that coming.”

Felix Pink is a decent elderly widower who is a bit lonesome but as Exiteer has found a task which gives him the feeling of being helpful. Finding himself suddenly in the middle of a crime is something he absolutely cannot cope with. He is full of pangs of conscience which leads him to worsen the situation even more. Yet, it is not only the Exiteer who is breath-taking to observe but also the dead man’s family – consisting of his son Reggie and his father Skipper – who have quite some story to offer and also the police is a set of extraordinary characters.

A remarkable plot which offers quite some surprises one surely cannot see coming.

Joshua Cohen – Moving Kings

Joshua Cohen – Moving Kings

David King is the head of “King’s Moving“, a New York based family business specialised in moving homes. Couples moving in together, couples going separate ways. David and his wife Bonnie also separated, their daughter Tammy wastes his father’s money and his secretary Ruth now manages not only the office but all of David’s life. There is just one thing she cannot help him with: David’s cousin from Israel asked him to welcome her son Yoav for some time. He just came out of the IDF and like all the others, needs some travelling to forget the years in the army. David has only met Yoav once many years ago when he spent a couple of hours with his family in Jerusalem. But he is sure to offer the young man exactly what he needs, not taking into account what serving in one of the world’s toughest armies means.

Joshua Cohen’s novel appears in the beginning to be some lightweight and funny story about making business in New York and knowing (or rather: not knowing) the rules of conduct among the super-rich. David is not the classic businessman who knows his way around the upper class, he disposes of some cleverness which helped him to set up his business, but he is not really familiar with the codes. The same applies to his visit in Israel a couple of years earlier. As a Jew, he feels like having to know the historic sites in Israel but cannot connect anything with the places – just like his cousin who shows him around. When family duty calls, in form of accommodating young Yoav, he does not hesitate to fulfil the wish.

However, with the appearance of Yoav, the novel changes its tone. It is not the humorous atmosphere which prevails now, but a rather despairing and depressive mood that comes from Yoav and takes over. Having served three years in the IDF did not go without scars for him. He was in a special unit which was of no special use in peaceful times but well equipped for the emergency. Now as a civilian, he has serious problems integrating into normal life. He can only accomplish small tasks every day and spends most of his time on the couch doing nothing. He can hardly cope with being alive, not speaking of building friendships and a new life in a foreign country.

The novel takes another turn when Yoav’s fried Uri makes his appearance. Being allocated the same unit should have created a lifelong bond, but the young men are very different and their diverting points of view create more and more tension between them. Yoav is reflecting on his place in the world and what he has seen and done in the army:

“you can’t stop being a soldier, just like you can’t stop being a Jew […] You were born a soldier, because you were born a Jew. “ (pos. 1392)

By birth he is denied the chance of making a choice in his life. And as an Israeli, people will never be impartial when they meet him. Everybody has an opinion, either on Jews, or in Israelis, or on both. They are held responsible for things they are neither responsible for nor had a chance to do something about it.

A third party is contrasted with them. A black veteran who fought in Vietnam and has lost in belief in the Christian God as well as the American state who should take care of those who have served the country abroad. His only way out is converting to Islam and seeking refuge in addiction. So, who of them is worse off? The forgotten veteran, the black American, the American Jew or the Israeli Jew?

How defining is religion after all? For most of the characters it does not provide help or relief from everyday burdens. It also does not seem to provide a framework to organise their life around. So, build your life without it, but what are the rules then? It seems to be a minefield and you can only survive of you are stronger and live at the expenses of the others it seems.