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Marc Lucas is a social worker in Berlin. We meet him as he is talking to a damaged teenager, who is threatening to kill herself by jumping from a diving board into an empty pool. Then he walks away, never turning back to see her fate.
Six weeks earlier he killed his actress wife Sandra and their unborn child in a car crash for which he was to blame. He has read an advert in a newspaper for the Bleibtru institute which offers to erase painful memories by erasing all memories
"Our problem is not that we learn too little. On the contrary, our problem is forgetting," explains Bleibtru.
"Up to now... psychoanalysis has tended to unearth supressed memories. Our research proceeds in the diametrically opposite direction."
Did he go to the clinic? Did he take the treatment? Marc is now in a nightmare world where his credit cards don't work, the numbers have disappear from his mobile, his ID has gone, a building vanishes, his dead wife appears, his troubled brother is a contract killer for a gangster who wants a journalist dead.
This is delivered at a blistering pace, each short chapter ending with a twist that propels the narrative in a new direction. The writing is taught, too clean and functional too engage the enmotions, and the plot deliberately disorientating. I read this as a literary device, others have seen it as a weakness endemic to such thrillers.
Reading Splinter is like watching a firework display; you are dazzled by pyrotechnics, then you walk away. Some parts are so bright you see them when you blink...
Splinter, by trans from German by John Brownjohn (2009, Kindle ed)