Anatomy of a Killer
By Romy Hausmann
- Anatomy of a Killer
Author: Romy Hausmann
Publisher: Quercus Publishing Plc
- ISBN: 9781529422412
- Published: August 2023
- Pages: 356
- Format reviewed: Paperback
- Review date: 02/11/2023
- Language: English
Having watched plenty of True Crime documentaries I am often struck how loyal some friends and family are to the criminal. They have been convicted of the crime, but sometimes family just will not accept the outcome. Injustice is one reason, people do get sent down for something they never did, but also what other choice do they have? Imagine finding out that one of the people you are closest to you is a killer and you never suspected. A child, a brother, a father. In Romy Hausmann’s Anatomy of a Killer, Ann Lesniak will do what it takes to prove her father’s innocence, but the investigation may not lead to the answers she seeks.
Almost once a year for over a decade a young girl has been kidnapped in the Berlin area and found several days later dead with red ribbons leading to the body. The police are hoping that the killings will stop after they arrest academic Walter Lesniak, several pieces of evidence point in his direction. Walter’s daughter, Ann, refuses to believe that the police have caught the right person and sees the evidence as circumstantial. Ann’s own investigation will put her life in danger and show the impact that a serial killer has on the victim’s families over the years.
The crime genre is a broad church that has enough room for cosy crime capers, that may have murder, but ‘feel’ fun. Anatomy is from the opposite spectrum. This is your dark modern crime noir, where you are not going to feel uplifted, but you may feel thrilled. The crimes themselves are some of the worst there can be – a series of children murdered over the years. It is an act so abhorrent that it is hard to imagine. You can see why Ann cannot fathom that her father could be behind the murders. A single parent who has looked after her for years, never showing a dark side.
What follows is an investigation of hope. Ann hopes that her father is innocent. At first, she really believes this to be the case, but when her father refuses to explain his whereabouts to the police and the evidence begins to mount, it becomes increasingly hard to believe. Ann may just be the last person on Earth to believe that her father had nothing to do with the killings. This is a story of family, innocence lost, childhood memories shattered.
The book jumps a little back and forth with Ann’s recollections of the years, but it is not all about the past murders. Ann’s own investigation is the highlight and is filled with dangers. She is meeting with the families of the dead children. These people have all been affected in different ways, some would seek vengeance on their child’s killer. An eye for an eye, a child for a child.
You are not going to finish Anatomy feeling uplifted, but Hausmann does a reasonable job of explaining the motivations behind the killer. As a reader we need this closure, as does Ann. It is a well written book, fans of the Scandanavian crime scene will be at home with the darker material matter. I cannot say that I enjoyed large parts of the book, but it was gripping, and I was never sure where it was going.
Written on 2nd November 2023 by Sam Tyler .