A Devon Downfall

Bernd Dieckmann, a Detective Superintendent in the city of Köllburg in Germany, first appeared in the novel “A Plot in Germany”. Middle-aged, and a committed bird-watcher and beer-drinker, he also had a track record of successful investigations which served him well in bringing to book the perpetrators of attacks aimed at the International Garden Festival taking place in his city. But there was more to Dieckmann. In particular, there was his perennially supportive wife, Susanna, who brought the same devotion to literature that Dieckmann brought to bird-watching. Susanna Dieckmann's loyalty to the works of fiction written by a British writer, Marjorie Sanston, went so far as persuading Bernd to join her on a holiday in Devon, the setting for Sanston's books. Their holiday is described in the short story “Darkness in Darteness”. One of Dieckmann's more unusual investigations is the subject of a second short story, “A Shadow in Köllburg”. The misadventure of a young urban climber leads Dieckmann to discover a surveillance operation in his city which was previously unknown to him. The novella “A Devon Downfall” sees Bernd and Susanna take a second holiday to that county, again on the trail of Marjorie Sanston's writing. Their visit to Albacombe, on the North Devon coast, coincides with a local tragedy – a death which has the marks of foul play. The local police have reason to suspect one of the Dieckmanns' fellow tourists of involvement in the death, and Bernd is asked to help, as an interpreter, but also as a proven investigator. The last short story in the collection, “The Altbronn Postscript”, ties up one of the loose ends from the novella. The Dieckmanns are back in Köllburg when one of the family affected by the tragedy in Albacombe comes to Germany to seek to rectify a long-standing grievance. Without Marjorie Sanston's books, Bernd Dieckmann would never have visited Devon. Equally, however, without “A Plot in Germany” Bernd himself would never have emerged on to the printed page. Samuel Johnson said: “A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it.” He could have added that the characters take on a life of their own, before and beyond the books in which they appear.
ISBN: 9781835971611
Type: Paperback
Pages: 180
Published: 10 May 2024
Price: $11.95

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