Eye : No future in fiction?
Stuttgart is one of the safest German cities
yet has some very successful writers of detective fiction. When I
was in the middle of writing ‘Die
Blaue Liste” I said to one of them ‘My main character is called George
Dengler and he's a private detective in Stuttgart. My book is about…' ‘Stop
Wolfgang,' he said. ‘A private detective?' ‘Yes,' I said, ‘He's called
George Dengler, he's a private detective who lives in Stuttgart and
it', he said. ‘We don't have private detectives in Germany .' I was a
bit taken aback as I'd already written half the book. ‘Just think
about detective series on TV,' he said. ‘There are policemen and policewomen
everywhere you look. Seeking the truth is an official duty in Germany
which can only be carried out by public servants.' When he saw my horrified
expression he added: ‘It has to do with the Germans' readiness to obey
orders. We need people in authority. Private detectives just don't
have a role in Germany .'
What a mess. I spent a sleepless night pondering the advice of my very
experienced colleague. But, I said to myself, my half-finished manuscript
at the forefront of my thoughts, Germans love reading stories from Philip
Marlowe to Miss Marple and many other wonderful private detectives. And
so I came to the brave decision to keep George Dengler a private detective,
but just to be on the safe side I made him a former police officer, an
investigator with the National Crime Squad. In for a penny, in for a pound!
So George Dengler remains one of the few
private investigators in German detective fiction, which allows me,
his creator, some advantages: George isn't confined to one ‘patch' or
station or bound by police rules and regulations. The everyday life
of the private detective who is his own boss reflects the social reality
of the nation much better than if I had chosen as my main character
a policeman looking forward to his pension.