I’m glad I read The Collini Case a significant amount of time after reading lots of reviews of it and the media coverage related to it: first of all, it’s a very short book, and most reviews give away quite a few significant details about the plot, which this piece will as well. Second of all, it’s definitely a book that makes for interesting discussion because it helped lead to discussions in the German government about reexamining the Ministry of Justice.
I usually shy away from legal procedurals because it’s hard to ignore dramatic license with American criminal procedure, but I have less of a problem when I’m reading about another country’s legal process. Caspar Leiner takes his first murder case just 42 days after he was admitted to the bar, and this book covers the length of his representation of the retired Collini who doesn’t deny murdering industrialist Meyer.
The book has a few sections taking place in Casper’s past and Collini’s past, which lead to the motive for the killing, but the main thrust of the book is the horror of the law that allowed Meyer to avoid prosecution for war crimes. The actual story was fine but not fantastic, but the ramifications of the case were the strongest parts of the book, if that makes any sense. What the book achieved outside the story is what’s more important to me, and I think that can be a valid reason to decide to read a book.
This book has sparked lots of discussion, and the following posts include lots of interesting comments and other articles to read: Mrs. Peabody Investigates, The Game’s Afoot, and Reactions to Reading.