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Publishers WeeklyVon Schirach (Crime) draws on his background as a criminal defense attorney in these fourteen stories-all based on real events-that call into question the nature of guilt and innocence. He does not pass judgment on his characters, opting instead to observe them through his sparse prose. In "Children," false accusations of sexual assault ruin the reputation of an innocent office furniture sales rep, and he considers murdering his accuser out of desperation. In "DNA," Nina and Thomas, a young homeless couple, get away with killing a man. Years later, once they have risen out of poverty, investigators find new evidence, reopen the case and bring the two in for questioning. The stories are rich with such details, as von Schirach consistently captures the humanity of his subjects and forces readers to reconsider the morality of their decisions. The most striking piece is "Anatomy," a brief but powerful journey into the mind of a man planning to kill a woman who had rejected him. The story is gruesome both in the details of his murderous plot and in the ethical quandary von Schirach presents when the man is struck dead by a speeding car before he can commit his crime. The driver is convicted of manslaughter, and readers are left wondering where guilt really lies. Though his stories are succinct, von Schirach manages to absorb, repulse, and shock readers through his economy of language in this transcendent collection.
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