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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Arbogast Case

The Arbogast Case

A Novel

Thomas Hettche Translation from the German by Elizabeth Gaffney

Farrar, Straus and Giroux


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 falls 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.

The Arbogast Case

She laughed as if she had just discovered something and turned back to look at him. Drawn to her laugh, he let the two sides of the swing doors slide slowly across his open palms before gently releasing...

Praise for The Arbogast Case

“Breathtaking . . . A gripping legal thriller.” —Frankfurter Rundschau

“Coolly detailed and surely paced, The Arbogast Case is an intelligent, involving forensic drama. Thomas Hettche goes beyond the procedural in search of something deeper.” —Stewart O'Nan, author of The Night Country


Reviews from Goodreads

Thomas Hettche Translation from the German by Elizabeth Gaffney

Thomas Hettche was born in 1964. He studied German and Philosophy 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.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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