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Self's Deception: A Gerhard Self Mystery    by Bernhard Schlink order for
Self's Deception
by Bernhard Schlink
Order:  USA  Can
Vintage, 2007 (2007)

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Gerhard Self, a private investigator, has been approached by a man claiming to be a businessman in Bonn, Germany. He wants Self to find his daughter Leo, who has disappeared. Not to necessarily accost her, but to let the father know that his daughter is alive and well.

But to Self, a former prosecutor, something is not right with this quest. He can't put his finger on the problem, but accepts the man's retainer and sets out to find the girl. This search takes him on a convoluted trail and embroils Self more in the unknown problem than he would have wished for.

There's poison gas at an American base, terrorist attacks that were not reported, deaths unacknowledged by the authorities, lies and deceits at every turn, a journalist desperate to break a big story, and a psychiatric hospital that may not be what it purports to be. The missing girl, Leonore Salger, is at the center of all of this but is she really guilty of being a terrorist?

This tightly written plot is full of action and suspense. I really like the idea of the detective being at the end of his career at sixty-eight, rather than a fresh young face with muscles to match, and ready to use them at any time. Gerhard Self is aware of his increasing limitations but still manages to do what must be done. He's under no illusions as to his abilities. But he does have a bit of trouble with commitment which his girlfriend Brigitte keeps pushing.

The mad dash through Germany brings those parts of the country to life. The governmental involvement seems to be the same the world over. Just tell the population only what they will swallow as truth. Back pedal if necessary and blame someone else. Self's Deception is author and law professor Bernhard Schlink's sixth novel. He's got another winner on his hands.

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