Wednesday, 6 November 2013

A Deal with the Devil by Martin Suter

Already there is sensory overload- too much to see, too much to hear, too much to taste, too many smells that sometimes we hardly do feel. Imagine 'seeing' sounds, 'smelling' colours, 'feeling' smells, when you have problem with dealing with one reality, and somebody tells you that there is more than one reality. This is what happens to Frau Sonia Frey after a LSD trip. Trying to make amends for her overworking senses and her shattered life, she flees to a remote Swiss Village to work as physiotherapist in a renovated hotel. Does it help when the room she is staying has a slanting ceiling making her feel 'she was in danger of sliding out of the room.'?

While she is dealing with her overworking senses, she also realises that somebody is acting out the Legend of the Devil of Milan. Will Sonia make sense of her reality? What's happening in this remote Swiss village? Will she escape the demons pursuing her? Who's trying to destroy the Hotel?

The back cover of the book gives too much of the plot away. The story is only 204 pages why give so much of the plot away. Good that I didn't read it until I finished the story.

If you wonder what's with the font. I did so too. For first quarter of the book, alternate pages had some gimmick with the font, some of letters in a word in italics and others normal. This put me off reading the book for a while. The premise got my attention but every time I picked the book, I couldn't read more than 2 or 3 pages because of the font. If the idea is to let me feel like how Sonia feels, I get the feeling just from reading the text and description, I didn't really want this gimmick with fonts.

After the quarter, the story starts to settle and so does the font and from there I read the book in one sitting. I could feel the ceiling sliding, being enchanted by the rainbow, not exactly smell the colours, but yes, I understand what Frau Sonia is going through. It is not very difficult to guess what is going on but this is a psychological suspense that plays with your senses and perception of reality and works really well.

Translated from German by Peter Millar and winner of the Friedrich-Glauser Prize for New Crime Novel and shortlisted for the CWA Duncan Lawrie International Dagger 2008.

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