Friday, 30 September 2022

Read in 2022 - 27: Rapunzelturm

Rapunzelturm by Mark Stichler is a crime mystery set in my hometown, Ludwigsburg - and that was the only reason for me reading this book, and sticking with it until the end.

A murdered woman is found hanging from Rapunzel's braid in the fairytale garden within the palace grounds. When the two young detectives begin to question witnesses, some of them quickly turn into suspects. But the most obvious is not always the truth, is it, and the couple need to cope with two more deaths - one of them similarly staged in the fairytale garden again - before they solve the crimes.

There is also a lot going on in their private lives, and at the same time Ludwigsburg's famous palace grounds and fairytale garden is under threat by plans of a big makeover, not appreciated by the majority of citizen but welcome by the municipal council because it means money coming in.

And what do the two ex GIs living in Ludwigsburg's former US military housing area of Pattonville have to do with it all?

The story had potential but didn't live up to it for me, I'm afraid. Much of that was due to the rather wooden dialogues between the protagonists, and the entire style of writing seemed more like something a hobby writer would produce than coming from an author who has been working as a journalist for many years.

Mark Stichler was born the same year as I, and with him writing a book set in my town, maybe I expected too much but was disappointed. 

Back in 2018, I had read another book set in the fairytale garden, and enjoyed that one very much. You can find my review here. You can see a picture of the real Rapunzelturm in this post.


  1. It is always disappointing when you are really looking forward to settling down with a book and then finding it wanting isn't it?

    1. It is, but as the book was relatively short, my disappointment did not last long. In all fairness I also have to add that it was the author‘s first work of crime fiction. Maybe his writing style has evolved since then.

  2. Mark Stichler has a short entry on Wiki.
    He spent his schooldays in Ludwigsburg so I am wondering whether he names real streets and places in the town.
    If I was writing about Glasgow in a novel I would invent neighbourhoods and streets which do not exist outside of my dreams.
    Same with London. For me that would be the fun part.
    You have the magic touch of bringing places to life, like Tasker and Neil.
    Readers feel they have walked in the Black Forest and looked up at the Moon from Ludwigsburg.
    And there are those far horizons, those blue remembered in your photos ...

    1. Blue remembered hills ...
      A Shropshire Lady by A.E. Housman (1859-1936).

    2. He does use real places and gets them almost all right; I only found one error reg. Pattonville when he describes the detectives as turning left into Pattonville after driving out of Ludwigsburg. That‘s impossible, as the only way to reach the suburb coming from the town is by a right turn.

    3. One error is not bad in a novel.
      Julian Barnes interviewed by Clive James (YouTube) said The New Yorker employs these painstaking Fact Checkers who phone you at your home and go through every line of your copy with a fine-tooth comb.

      I get disturbed at a story that opens with a woman's death never mind her murder.
      Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago opened with the death of Yuri's mother which the film understood perfectly.
      The music of the balalaika opens and closes David Lean's film though we never hear a word of Zhivago's poetry.