Detective Story by Imre Kertesz

Detective Story

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.

  • By Night in Chile by Roberto Bolano
  • Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler

Books with similar mood

The Other Child

Charlotte Link

Birthday Letters

Ted Hughes


Jay Bernard

An Untouched House

Willem Frederik Hermans

In the Orchard, the Swallows

Peter Hobbs

The Dog

Jack Livings

The Poetry Cure

Julia Darling and Cynthia Fuller (eds)

The Auschwitz Violin

Maria Angels Anglada

The Bride from Odessa

Edgardo Cozarinsky

Too Black, Too Strong

Benjamin Zephaniah

When De Mark Buss

Geoffrey Philip and others

A Meal in Winter

Hubert Mingarelli

Under Your Skin

Sabine Durrant

The Lifeboat

Charlotte Rogan

The Boat

Nam Le

The Old Man Who Read Love Stories

Luis Sepulveda


Melissa Harrison

Blind Sunflowers

Alberto Mendez

Field Study

Rachel Seiffert

So Lucky

Nicola Griffith


Lucy Caldwell

The Sickness

Alberto Barrera Tyszka

First Spring Grass Fire

Rae Spoon


Caroline Brothers

Days Like Today

Rachel Ingalls

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly

Sun-Mi Hwang


Louise Stern

The Meursault Investigation

Kamel Daoud

God's Dog

Diego Marani

The Silent Wife

A S A Harrison

Flight Behaviour

Barbara Kingsolver

Errors of the Spirit


Oh Sweden! Oh Israel!

Stephan Mendel-Enk

The Illusion of Return

Samir El-Youssef

The Orange Grove

Larry Tremblay


Elise Blackwell

Unaccustomed Earth

Jhumpa Lahiri

Balancing on the Edge of the World

Elizabeth Baines

Dance by the Canal

Kerstin Hensel

The Deer Wedding

Penny Simpson

Kafka in Bronteland

Tamar Yellin