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Brenner and God (Melville International Crime) Paperback – June 26, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Brenner and God  is one of the cleverest—and most thoroughly enjoyable—mysteries that I've read in a long time. Wolf Haas is the real deal, and his arrival on the American book scene is long overdue."
—Carl Hiaasen, NY Times bestselling author of Skinny Dip


"Simon Brenner, the hero of Wolf Haas' marvelous series of crime thrillers, is a wildly likable and original character—a delightful and unexpected hero to show up in this noble and enduring genre. That Brenner struggles his way—always humanistically, often humorously—through Haas' acutely suspenseful narratives without the aid of a firearm, armed only with his smarts and sometimes fallible intuition, is a monumental plus." 
—Jonathan Demme, Oscar-winning director of The Silence of the Lambs

“A must for crime fiction lovers with a sense of humor: In Simon Brenner, Wolf Haas has created a protagonist so real and believable that I sometimes wanted to tap him on the shoulder and point him in the right direction!”—Andrey Kurkov, author of Death and the Penguin

“Drolly told by an unidentified yet surprisingly reliable narrator, Brenner and God is very funny, leavened throughout with a finely honed sense of the absurd.”
—Lisa Brackmann, author of Rock Paper Tiger and Getaway

"Haas brings a wry sense of humor to this familiar story line with his detached, conversational style. American readers will look forward to seeing more of Simon Brenner." 
—Publishers Weekly

"Brenner and God is a humdinger ... a sockdollager of an action yarn, revealed via the smart-ass, self-effacing narrative voice that's a sort of trademark of author Wolf Haas." —The Austin Chronicle

"Wolf Haas presents us with one of the most thoroughly likable characters I’ve come across in a very long while ... the book is a meticulously plotted, dark, and often very funny ride." —The Millions

"[A] superb translation of one of Austria’s finest crime novels. This is the first of the Brenner novels in English. We can only hope for more, "[Brenner] has been brilliantly brought to life by Mister Hass’ subtle yet masterful prose, with just the right balance of dark humor." —New York Journal of Books 

Publisher Melville House is to be commended for translating the Brenner series into English, and bringing it to a wider audience. Mister Hass may not yet be a household name, this side of the Atlantic, but all that is about to change, thanks to Simon Brenner."—Globe and Mail

"A gleaming gem of a novel" —Crimespree Magazine

“Thanks to Simon Brenner, the Austrian Wolf Haas is one of the German-speaking world's premier crime writers, beloved by critics and readers alike.” —Der Spiegel
 
“This is great art, great fun.”—Germany Radio
 
“Wolf Haas writes the funniest and cleverest mysteries.”—Die Welt

"I liked the way Haas set up the narration of this story (and I LOVED Brenner)...quite funny, very well done.  I will definitely be wanting to pick up the next Melville House Brenner release The Bone Man." --Crime Segment

About the Author

Wolf Haas was born in 1960 in the Austrian province of Salzburg. He is the author of seven books in the bestselling Detective Brenner mystery series, three of which have been made into popular German-language films. Among other prizes, the Brenner books have been awarded the 2004 Literature Prize from the City of Vienna and the German Thriller Prize.
 
Annie Janusch is the translator of the Art of the Novella edition of Heinrich von Kleist’s The Duel.
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Product Details

  • Series: Melville International Crime
  • Paperback: 215 pages
  • Publisher: Melville International Crime; 1st edition (June 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612191134
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612191133
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,080,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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See all 11 customer reviews
Brenner is a great character, stumbling into greatness as the story goes along.
Neil Smith
What makes the book marginally more interesting than your average detective procedural, is the style and tone of the darkly comic narrator.
A. Ross
As the reader learns about Brenner, and watches him search, they soon begin to wonder about the narrator as well.
Amy Henry

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
(3.5 stars) In the wake of the popularity of Scandinavian mystery writers like Jo Nesbo, Arnaldur Indridason, Henning Mankell, and Stieg Larsson, this mystery by wildly popular Austrian novelist Wolf Haas has just been translated into English, the first of seven novels featuring Simon Brenner to be available in the U.S. Though Haas's novels have been described elsewhere as "noir," like those of the previously named, more famous authors, this novel is actually quite different. Here the novel's smart-alecky and in-your-face first person narrator, with his appreciation of irony and his uniquely hilarious observations, keeps the reader smiling even as horrific murders are taking place. The narrator himself does not appear to take the characters seriously, and the novel's resulting style is closer to that of an "entertainment" or farce than it is to the dark and often cynical mysteries identifiable as "noir."

The novel's wry narrator is NOT Simon Brenner, who is ostensibly the main character. Brenner, a former policeman, is now working as a chauffeur for a fifty-year-old man who runs a major development company with offices in Munich. The man's much younger wife, a physician, works in Vienna, where she operates a clinic offering abortion services. Their two-year-old daughter Helena is ferried back and forth regularly between Munich and Vienna so that both parents can share her company during the work week. On one occasion, however, Brenner stops for gasoline, and Helen disappears. There is no dearth of suspects since the father is working on a major development which not everyone supports, and the mother is facing daily attacks from anti-abortionists. Fired from his job, Brenner decides to track down the kidnapper himself and is soon involved in several gory murders.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you're expecting the traditional American version of an ex-cop, you would be very wrong with Wolf Haas' character Brenner, in the book "Brenner and God." Brenner is a bit slow-witted, possibly slightly depressed kind of ex-cop who takes on the job of being a driver for a two-year-old child of an abortion doctor and her contractor husband. And he does it well, traveling between the two individuals and the child's daycare provider. That is, until the day that he forgets to gas up the car before picking up the child. There's nothing for it but he has to stop with the toddler in the car at a gas station. She enjoys watching him wash the windows but then, he has to go into the station to pay. While there, he decides to buy the little girl a treat but which one shall he get? Its that momentary lapse — that he blames on the mysterious pills he's been taking (that I assumed was for depression) -- that causes him grief.

Because the child is kidnapped -- and he's suddenly out of a job, a home and under suspicion by the police. And maybe worst of all, he's really concerned about the child. So slowly, the cop in him comes out and he starts to find clues to perhaps what has happened to little Helena.

But unlike a standard mystery, there is more going on than the kidnapping of a toddler and it takes Brenner quite a while to figure out just what he has gotten himself into -- and then to get himself out of it!

Perhaps because this is written by a German author, I only saw the humor in hindsight but its there and its quite a good story. Its written in a casual, humous way that is quite different from the books that I'm used to reading. But if you're willing to take the time, this is a good story to read.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Neil Smith on June 26, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I got a sneak peek at this a few months back, and it's one of the strangest crime novels I've seen in a while. It kind of feels like a noir version of Douglas Adams, and it kind of feels like Jerome Charyn, too. But nothing else really compares. Those are just the closest touchstones I can think of. Brenner is a great character, stumbling into greatness as the story goes along. I don't want to give too much of it away. It's best to go in without knowing a lot of the plot and just let yourself be absorbed by the voice and the world. Great book.
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I liked this short book featuring an Austrian ex-detective turned chauffeur. It was definitely quirky and different, but that's good. The story was told by a somewhat detached narrator who is not identified, and that took some getting used to. This is the first of Haas's books to be translated, and I'm not sure if it's the first in his series or not. Fantasticficion.com lists it as first, but maybe that's because it was translated first. I'll definitely try another.
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Format: Paperback
This is the seventh book in the "Brenner" series by Austrian writer Haas, but the first to appear in English. I generally hate it when series books are translated out of order, since it always leaves me with a nagging feeling that there's a whole lot of depth and backstory to the protagonist that I'm missing out on. That was especially the case with this book, which employs an unusually intrusive omniscient narrator who offers a snarky running commentary to the proceedings.

Brenner is an antidepressant-popping ex-cop, currently working as the private chauffeur to a wealthy developer, mainly ferrying the man's two-year-old daughter back and forth between Vienna and Munich. The story itself revolves around what happens one night when Brenner stops at a gas station to fill up and grab a coffee, and comes back to an empty car. Although he is immediately fired by the developer and his wife (an abortion clinic doctor), Brenner naturally can't sit back and let the police fumble around -- he has to find the girl himself. Both parents had enemies due to their professions, and Brenner starts poking his nose into their affairs in order to try and suss out the kidnappers.

What makes the book marginally more interesting than your average detective procedural, is the style and tone of the darkly comic narrator. The asides and interjections break up what is, at its core, a pretty simple narrative. They also provide a great deal of foreshadowing, enough for the reader to know from very early on that this is a story with a significant body count. Depending on the reader, this can be taken blackly humorous, or possibly annoying -- personally, I enjoyed it even though it lessens the suspense.
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