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  • Reviews for In Matto's Realm by Friedrich Glauser
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Reviews for In Matto's Realm by Friedrich Glauser

'The Spirit of Madness. After reading Friedrich Glauser's dark tour de force In Matto's Realm (Bitter Lemon; paperback, $13.95), it's easy to see why the German equivalent of the Edgar Allan Poe Award is dubbed "The Glauser." But it's surprising to note that this classic, originally published in German in 1936, has not appeared in English until now, 70 years later. The novel follows Sergeant Jakob Studer as he investigates the suspicious death of Ulrich Borstli, director of the Randlingen Clinic, a Bern mental asylum. To solve the case, the good sergeant must resist falling under the thrall of Dr. Ernst Laduner, who is next in line for the directorship. A charming man who is fond of philosophizing about the dusky divide between reason and sanity, Laduner tells Studer, "There's one thing I will tell you before we pass through this door. You're paying a visit to the subconscious, to the naked subconscious, or, as my friend Schül puts it in his rather more poetic manner: you are being taken to the dark realm where Matto rules. Matto! That's the name Schül has given to the spirit of madness." Fortunately for readers, Studer steadfastly pursues physical clues along with the psychological truth of this matter. We're with him all the way.'

- Washington Post

'There is a certain frisson when you come across a truly original work. That it is already considered a classic, but one that has lain hidden to English-speaking readers for sixty years, makes the anticipation almost unbearable. Will it live up to its billing? In Matto's Realm was first published in serial form in 1936, but was not translated into English until now. The German-speaking Swiss have been hiding this gem all those years, knowing that Glauser's work was the template for the infinitely more widely known and respected Friedrich Dürenmatt. Some have indeed called Glauser the "godfather of Swiss crime fiction", and Germany's most prestigious crime fiction award is called the Glauser Award…The year in 1936, after all, and another kind of madness is about to seize the world outside Matto's realm. In Matto's Realm is truly a classic that deserves wider recognition in the English-speaking world.'

- Tangled Web

'This book originally appeared in German in 1936, but is so fresh and original that it could have been written yesterday. Amazingly, this is the first English translation. The Swiss policeman sergeant Studer- outwardly stolid, inwardly intuitive- investigates murders occurring in the claustrophobic environment of an insane asylum in Bern, from which a child-killer has escaped.'

- The Independent

'IN MATTO'S REALM is a dark period piece police procedural that grips the audience from the moment Studer enters the clinic and never lets go as the sleuth realizes those inside reflect those outside. The strong story line is cast-driven as the audience obtains a deep look at a 1920s German mental asylum accompanied by the prevalent psychological theories of the day. The who-done-it is shrewdly developed so that readers receive a fine detective story used to provide a look at a psychiatric clinic by an insider as author Friedrich Glauser spent time in psychiatric wards where he began his writing career.'

- Harriet Klausner

'This golden age gem contains echoes of Dürrenmatt, Fritz Lang's film M and Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain…The Swiss madhouse of Glauser's psychologically wrenching Sergeant Studer novel, the second to be translated into English (after 2004's Thumbprint), darkly illuminates the anguish and disorientation of Germany between the wars. Both a compelling mystery and an illuminating finely wrought mainstream novel, this classic will make it clear to American readers why the German language prize for detective fiction is named after Glauser.'

- Publishers Weekly

'In this dark mystery set in a lunatic asylum, ageing detective Studer, on a missing persons case, discovers the hospital director's body leading into a labyrinth plot where the edges between fantasy and reality are blurred. The detail, place and sinister characters are so intelligently sculpted the sense of foreboding is palpable.'

- The Glasgow Herald

A despairing plot about the reality of madness and life, leavened at regular intervals with strong doses of bittersweet irony.

- The Guardian

'Friedrich Glauser spent most of his life in psychiatric hospitals and was well qualified to convey the disquieting setting of In Matto's Realm. Glauser's mystery, written in 1936 when psychoanalysis was a novelty to the layman and forensic science barely recognized, makes gripping reading as Studer questions both staff and patients and tries to make sense of the inscrutable Deputy Director's behaviour.'

- The Sunday Telegraph
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