Translated by Mike Mitchell
When, in later years, Sergeant Studer told the story of the Chinaman he also called it the story of the three places as the case unfolded in a country inn, in a poorhouse and in a horticultural college, all in Pfründisberg, a Swiss village. Three places but also two murders. Anna Hungerlott, supposedly dead of a gastric influenza, left behind handkerchiefs with traces of arsenic. And one foggy November morning the enigmatic James Farny, nicknamed the Chinaman by Studer, was found lying on Anna’s grave. Murdered, a single pistol shot to the heart that did not hole his clothing.
Did the fact that the poorhouse inmates had to survive on watery cabbage soup while the Warden drank vintage wines have anything to do with the murders? Perhaps. Studer must reconstitute the Chinaman’s story, a voyage through asylums, reform schools and institutions for the destitute that, incidentally, were an integral part of Glauser’s short life.
The Chinaman, a European crime classic, is the fourth in the Sergeant Studer series published by Bitter Lemon Press.