Detective Story

by Imre Kertesz

Set in a South American prison cell this short and chilling book recounts the entrapment and subsequent killing of a father and son. The matter of fact retelling of the story makes for an unsettling read. It is the inevitability of the whole incident where the killing seems no more than a routine job for the perpetrators that leaves a lasting impression on the reader.


It's nasty work, I can tell you, but it's part of the job. We take away the offender's mind, shred his nerves, paralyze his brain, rifle through every pocket and even his innards. We slam him into a chair, draw the curtains, light a lamp - in short, we go by the book. We didn't make any effort to surprise the offender with some original twist. Everything happened in the way those ham-handed films would have prepared him for; everything happened the way he would expect; and precisely that was always the surprise - check it out if you don't believe me. We gather around, with Diaz facing him, Rodriguez to the side, me behind.
Translated by Tim Wilkinson


Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler

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