The Arbogast Case by Thomas Hettche
A Novel

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A compelling international thriller that explores the terrain between erotic love and death

On a warm September evening in 1953 Hans Arbogast, a young travelling salesman, picks up a hitchhiker, a refugee from East Germany. As dusk fall they make passionate love in a meadow. And then she is dead, her body found nestled against blackberry brambles. Even though the evidence is inconclusive, Arbogast is tried for murder, convicted, and sentenced to life imprisonment, all the while protesting his innocence. But Germany during the postwar years has no tolerance for scandal; all appeals are denied. For the next fourteen years he grows to inhabit his cell like a second skin, until finally a journalist, lawyer, and forensic pathologist from East Berlin set out to reexamine the evidence and have the case reopened.

Inspired by an actual criminal case that caused a furor at the time, The Arbogast Case elegantly weaves dramatic courtroom scenes with detailed forensic descriptions and authentic details of the grim postwar era. The result is a compelling legal thriller in which erotic love and death are intimately intertwined, by a young German writer whose lyrical style and utter originality have brought him renown throughout Europe and is now being published in English for the first time.

About Thomas Hettche

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Thomas Hettche was born in 1964. He studied German and Philosphy and now lives in Frankfurt, Germany. His previous books include "Ludwig Must Die,"" Incubations," and "Nox," He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Robert Walser Prize. Elizabeth Gaffney is a novelist and editor at "The Paris Review,"
Published November 1, 2003 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 352 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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All turns on whether an overzealous prosecutor coerced Arbogast’s confession and a prosecution witness willfully obscured details of an autopsy report that noted in the deceased woman’s body “a weakened condition as a result of a partial abortion.” (This is all based on a notorious real case.) He...

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Publishers Weekly

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German novelist Hettche's first book to be translated into English is a suspenseful, serious crime story set in postwar West Germany.

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Reviewing the Evidence

Hans Arbogast is a 28-year-old traveling salesman who lives up to all of the stereotypes associated with that profession.

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