Bitter Lemon, Jan 2009, $14.95
In Bern Swiss police Detective Sergeant Jakob Studer and his wife have traveled to Schwarzenstein to attend the marriage of their daughter. However, in the Hôtel zum Hirschen where they are staying someone stabs to death Jean Stieger using a sharpened bicycle spoke.
The local police arrest the only suspect, bicycle store mechanic and peddler Ernst Graf. However, Studer believes the murder weapon is not enough to prove Graf did the deed. Soon afterward while Graf remains in custody, someone poisons Stieger’s boss and partner , financier Joachim Krock. Studer investigates the two homicides, applying a logic that confuses the local cops, but leads to several suspects with motives for both murders.
The latest reprint of the 1930s Studer Swiss police procedural series is, like the previous four, a fabulous investigative tale. Studer is at his best working what appears to be a closed locked room case in which his progress in finding other suspects besides Graf with means, motive and opportunity alienates him with the locals and frustrates his wife on vacation and daughter preparing to marry. The Jakob Studer collection holds up as strong mysteries with an obvious historical perspectvie seven decades after they were initially released (see IN MATTO'S REALM, FEVER THUMBPRINT and THE CHINAMAN).