Monday, June 19, 2023

Aubrey Nye Hamilton Reviews: Sons and Brothers by Kim Hays

Sons and Brothers (Seventh Street Books, 2023) is the second Linder and Donatelli mystery by Kim Hays, who uses her Swiss residency to good effect in this series set in Bern, Switzerland. Pesticide (Seventh Street Books, 2022) is her first book about Inspector Giuliana Linder and her younger colleague Investigator Renzo Donatelli of the Bern police. Now they are back, investigating a crime with tendrils that extend well into Switzerland’s and the victim’s past.

On a cold rainy night in November Emergency Services receives a call about a man drowning in the Ă„are River. Help arrived too late to save Johann Karl Gurtner, a 72-year-old cardiac surgeon who had been walking his dog. Indications of a struggle ruled out accidental drowning. Linder and Donatelli find a number of potential suspects in Gurtner’s background: Professional colleagues who resented his arrogance including a doctor who had been hired to fill Gurtner’s position upon his retirement, only Gurtner refused to retire. A wife and two sons Gurtner walked away from to marry a much younger woman. Members of a trade guild to which he belonged in accordance with long-standing family tradition.

Flashbacks explain Gurtner’s younger days and a long-standing Swiss practice that farmed out neglected or abandoned children to work in rural areas, something like the orphan trains in the United States. Sometimes they were treated well and often they were not. This depressing practice endured in Switzerland into the 1970s.

A complicated story that goes back for generations and reveals multiple crimes. The realistic detailed police investigation is front and center at all times, with the focus first on Linder’s research and interviews, then on Donatelli’s. A secondary thread deals with Linder’s harassment by an obnoxious prosecutor. As always Linder’s patient husband Ueli juggles his job and child care responsibilities while she works long hours. Hays thoughtfully included a guide to Swiss names but I still found some of the nickname and given name variations confusing. For fans of contemporary police procedurals and international crime fiction.



·         Publisher: Seventh Street Books (April 18, 2023)

·         Language: English

·         Paperback: 362 pages

·         ISBN-10: 1645060586

·         ISBN-13: 978-1645060581


Aubrey Nye Hamilton ©2023

Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.

1 comment:

KimHaysBern said...

Hello, Aubrey.

I'm very pleased you reviewed SONS AND BROTHERS; thanks a lot. Sorry you found the characters' names confusing, though. The third book in the Polizei Bern series is already on its way, and I hope you'll give it a chance when it comes out. It definitely doesn't have as many nicknames in it!

Warmly, Kim