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Morgue Drawer Four [Kindle Edition]

Jutta Profijt , Erik J. Macki
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (205 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Coroner is the perfect job for Dr. Martin Gänsewein, who spends his days in peace and quiet autopsying dead bodies for the city of Cologne. Shy, but scrupulous, Martin appreciates his taciturn clients--until the day one of them starts talking to him. It seems the ghost of a recently deceased (and surprisingly chatty) small-time car thief named Pascha is lingering near his lifeless body in drawer number four of Martin's morgue. He remains for one reason: his "accidental" death was, in fact, murder. Pascha is furious his case will go unsolved--to say nothing of his body's dissection upon Martin's autopsy table. But since Martin is the only person Pascha can communicate with, the ghost settles in with the good pathologist, determined to bring the truth of his death to light. Now Martin's staid life is rudely upended as he finds himself navigating Cologne's red-light district and the dark world of German car smuggling. Unless Pascha can come up with a plan--and fast--Martin will soon be joining him in the spirit world. Witty and unexpected, Morgue Drawer Four introduces a memorable (and reluctant) detective unlike any other in fiction today.

Morgue Drawer Four was shortlisted for Germany's 2010 Friedrich Glauser Prize for best crime novel.

Editorial Reviews Review

Q&A with Jutta Profijt

The Friedrich Glauser Prize is one of the highest accolades a crime novel can receive in Germany. What was your first thought after you found out you’d been nominated? Has it affected your life or your approach to writing?

Jutta Profijt: When I first heard the news, I could not believe it, because the success of the Morgue Drawer series is based on political incorrectness and black humor--two characteristics that usually find a lot of enthusiasm among readers but little appreciation among German awards committees. I was very happy, of course, but it hasn’t really changed my life or my writing. I still write for readers, not for awards committees.

Q: How did you create such a memorable pair of crime fighters? Are Martin and Pascha based on anyone you know?

JP: The idea to have a “ghost” investigating his own murder came to me when I visited the morgue in Cologne. There, among the bodies, I suddenly thought: “What if one of these deceased people is not as dead as he is supposed to be?” Thank god there is no one like Pascha around in my real life. I just wanted to create a character that really drives Martin--the only person who can hear him and who can’t get rid of him--up the wall. So I gave Pascha all the characteristics I don’t like in people: I made him uneducated, intolerant, narrow-minded, egocentric, and sexist. But he also touches my heart because he is so lonely, and his heart is in the right place. And readers like him, too.

Q: Did a real morgue drawer inspire Pascha’s new home? Why number four?

JP: Yes, there’s a real morgue drawer in Cologne, but the drawers are not numbered. I wanted Pascha to think of it as his last known address, so I chose that form; and the number had to be four because I liked the sound of the title in German.

Q: You have quite a résumé: au pair, importer/exporter, executive coach, English instructor. Have these varied experiences shaped you as a writer?

JP: I believe that everything I have done in life has had an effect on my writing, but my becoming a novelist was purely coincidence. I never planned to start writing, but it’s somewhat logical. I have always been interested in other people, curious to see what they do and to understand why they do it. Communication has always played a major part in my life, often in foreign languages as I taught and translated English and French. When writing novels, I can combine all these interests.

Q: What’s next for unlikely hero Martin Gänsewein?

JP: Pascha sticks around to give Martin a hard time. In his private life, in his job, even in the bathroom, Martin will be watched--and not just watched, because Pascha comments on and criticizes every move Martin makes. And because Pascha has reached eternity, there’s no end in sight for Martin to get rid of him.

From Booklist

This entertaining mix of thriller and fantasy, which was shortlisted for Germany's Friedrich Glauser Prize, works a nice twist on a familiar theme. Car thief Pascha Lerchenberg is handed a couple of really big surprises: first, he’s murdered; then he awakens in the morgue to see his body being autopsied. As if that isn’t enough to drive a recently dead man around the bend, Pascha discovers that he can communicate with the coroner, Martin Gansewein (who is understandably gob-smacked when the dead man on his table begins talking to him). The nimbly translated tale follows Pascha and Martin—a decidedly mismatched pair—as they try to solve Pascha’s murder. Pascha's first-person narration, including jaunty commentary on his post-death existence and his relationship with Martin, gives the novel an appealing extra dimension. Stories told by dead people tend to be either YA fiction or high-end literary fare—Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones comes to mind—but it’s rare to find a thriller using the technique. Fans of crime novels and out-of-body fantasies should have a very good time with this one. — David Pitt

Product Details

  • File Size: 390 KB
  • Print Length: 245 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1611090326
  • Publisher: AmazonCrossing (December 13, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004M8T10G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,673 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
106 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Life sure is strange, especially when you're dead." October 27, 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If you've read the book description above, you already know you're in for an offbeat story. Let me assure you it's as clever and witty as it sounds, and rather touching. The original German must be deliciously written because the English translation certainly is.

While performing a routine autopsy, coroner Martin Gänsewein is suddenly challenged by a voice inside his head. The soul of Pascha Lerchenberg is speaking to him, claiming his death was no accident. Pascha won't rest in peace until murder is proven. He doesn't want his friends to think he died of sheer stupidity.

Poor Martin. His unofficial partnership with a very pushy ghost is about to begin. It will take him into some very bad nieghborhoods.

The culture clash between the middle-class doctor and the low-life car thief yields endless opportunities for humor. Pascha cannot believe that his reputation on earth is in the hands of a polite intellectual, a man who revels in complex sentences, grinds his own coffee beans, considers a veggie burger real food, has no feeling for cars, and lets romance interfere with carnal pleasure.

The dead guy and the doctor have multiple adventures in a plot that's a nice tight piece of work. It's great fun to watch the author contrive logical explanations for unbelievable phenomena. Before we know it, we're quite comfortable with life on both sides of the grave, even if Martin and Pascha are not.

If you enjoy murder mysteries, ghost stories, dark thrillers, light comedies, and/or social satire, chances are you'll love this book, as I did. It partakes of all these genres, but with total originality.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've been enjoying several urban fantasy series lately, including The Dresden Files, The Walker Papers, and Greywalker. This one, unlike those, is a much more conventional ghost story, where the ghost finds himself unexpectedly hanging around and so he works on solving his own murder, and although his partner is a coroner instead of a cop, the investigation proceeds in a fairly mundane manner. We get a couple of amusing interactions between the coroner and his invisible, inaudible companion with other parties in the story, but that's about as far as it goes. Otherwise, ghost boy mostly just enjoys looking down women's shirts and watching bad TV all night.

Supposedly this is the beginning of a series, but this story seems pretty well self-contained, and doesn't leave itself any obvious place to go after the end, nor did it leave me wanting to follow either of the characters in their future adventures. Like many first-of-a-series books, this one struggled a bit to find its voice. Once I got a little way in, however, it flowed along better and better, and was engaging (and short) enough to finish relatively quickly. Some of the voice-finding struggle may also be related to the translation; it's hard to translate colloquial language smoothly and keep the same feel, and I suspect this one could have been done better. In its current translation, I certainly can't see it having been worthy of a "best crime novel" prize in the original German. This book was a pleasant-enough few hours spent, but I wouldn't go seeking future books by the same author as a result of having read it.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars interesting concept, ends up being whiny December 7, 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I had a hard time getting into this book, mainly because the main character isn't very likeable by being rather whiny and self-congratulatory. I like the concept, someone remaining behind to avenge their death, but feel this particular story would have kept my interest better if it wasn't one sided and told Martin's side of the story as well. Pascha's character was so selfish and self-centered it took away from what I wanted to be the focus of the story, solving the murder mystery. As it is now, the mysteries of the deaths surrounding Pascha's doesn't really seem to drive the narrative, more link it together. Nothing very interesting happens until the last 15 or so pages and even then the ending was not satisfying in any way. This isn't a book I would pick up to read again, nor would I recommend it to any of my friends to read simply because the pacing of it just drags on and on and the one character that is developed is supremely irritating.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I'm sorry... November 11, 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
...I really wanted to like this, I did. After all, even though the premise isn't exactly unique (the spirit of a dead man comes back to enlist the help of someone who can see him in order to avenge his murder) the method in which this particular premise is told is. After all, the ghost is a petty thief and the man who helps him is a shy coroner who really only wants to do his job and be able to collect his antique city maps and be left alone. However, even five pages in I kept wondering why anyone was supposed to care who or why Pascha/Sascha Lerchenberg was murdered. At one hundred pages in, I was glad the annoying little oik had been bumped off. As a narrator/protagonist, Pascha is the most uncouth, disgusting, perverted, sexist pig of a man I've ever encountered. And we're supposed to care he's dead? Excuse me, but as a reader, we're supposed to be able to connect with the protagonist on some level, to have some sympathy for him. With Pascha I felt nothing but irritation that I had keep hearing his "voice." Martin, the coroner, is a much more sympathetic character and I kept wishing the book had been told from his P.O.V. I would much rather have seen the story unfold from his shy and hesitant perspective as he encountered all manner of thugs and ruffians and had only the patronizing promptings of a ghost, who was more interested in looking up nearby womens' skirts, to help him out of sticky situations. Martin's use of legal-ese and medical mumbo-jumbo to intimidate the men bullying him were the most funny and creative bits in the entire novel.

Then we come to the method of storytelling. I've already mentioned how annoying Pascha's voice is, but his many interjections interrupted the flow of the narrative rather than added to it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Good if you get it cheap
I don't normally read nonfiction books, but this was on sale and sounded interesting. Indeed, it was a pretty good read, but not gripping. Read more
Published 19 days ago by Jill D Hogg
4.0 out of 5 stars
A romp. Laugh out loud funny in parts. A little slow in others but overall fine entertainment, ready for the nest one.
Published 23 days ago by Emily Alana James
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Enjoyed the book a lot of twists and and turns.
Published 1 month ago by Steve Specht
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Ending was abrupt.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Does not try to be believable.
Published 2 months ago by kelzer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
really like the morgue drawer books
Published 2 months ago by Rob Lake
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Really enjoyed having something different to read. Can't wait to see what happens next
Published 2 months ago by Maroni
5.0 out of 5 stars Morgue Drawer Four
Although I read her second book first and then the first, I thoroughly enjoyed tis one also! I am looking forward to reading "Morgue Drawer for Rent", starting now!
Published 3 months ago by Sylvia Kircher
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story
I would have given this book a five but I didn't like the ending. The story is very good and imaginative
Published 4 months ago by Karen Mitchell
5.0 out of 5 stars very entertaining
I loved this book. I even lent it to a friend so he could enjoy it. A very different theme on murder and murder investigation. Laugh out loud funny for me. Read more
Published 4 months ago by robert whatmough
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