Moving from Berlin to Strathleven, a picture-perfect village on the Baltic Coast, was supposed to be a new beginning for Benno, his wife Carolin, and their six-year-old son, Tim, who is suffering from a mysterious illness. However, shortly after arriving in the country, Benno finds the corpse of a young woman in the woods, and when no one in the village admits to having known her, Benno initiates his own investigation. He digs deep into Strathleven’s superstitions and ritualistic past to recover the history of the murdered woman, yet will he be able to save his marriage and the lives of his wife and son?
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Praise for Knives, Forks, Scissors, Flames
“Some towns change with the times while others seem to fall through the cracks, entering an oddly timeless domain. The latter is the case with Strathleven, in which the rituals and darkness of the past seem always to be glimmering just below the surface of a seemingly normal shell. Wonderfully controlled and with a very deft, beautifully done tone, Knives, Forks, Scissors, Flames is the sort of thing that might happen if The Wicker Man had been cross-pollinated with one of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s detective novels.” — Brian Evenson, author of A Collapse of Horses
“No contemporary writer’s work scares me more than Stefan Kiesbye’s. Knives, Forks, Scissors, Flames is gothic and whatever the opposite of pastoral is rendered in his signature spare, whittled-to-the-bone style. I opened to page one at 10pm and lapsed into something like a fever dream until I flipped the final page and found myself a sweaty, unsettled hunch at the dining room table in the middle of the night wondering at the capacity for scribbles of ink from Kiesbye’s fingertips to approximate the physiological effect of Benzos. I can count on one hand the books that produce anything close to that effect, and that hand is mostly taken up by Kiesbye titles. I fear that he may well be a better writer than all the rest of us.” – Jeff Parker, author of Where Bears Roam the Streets
“Stefan Kiesbye…is the inventor of the modern German gothic novel.” — Elmar Krekeler, Die Welt
“In Strathleven, a village near Lübeck, mysterious events occur. The newly arrived Benno and his family are faced with the corpse of an unknown woman, superstition, vicious sermons and isolation. A modern gothic novel: quirky, very readable and interesting from the first page to the last.” — Peter Peterknecht, Deutschlandradio Kultur
“Kiesbye pulls out all the stops…The novel ends in a scary-exciting finale.” — Helmut Lenz, Borromäusverein
“Ancient pagan Germanic myths and customs pervade the history of Stratleven and its inhabitants. Nothing seems to follow the simple course of events, but old and savage rules; the only apparent escape is to commit new acts of violence.” — Magdalene Geisler, der Freitag
Information about the Author
Stefan Kiesbye is the author of four previous novels, Next Door Lived a Girl; Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone; Fluchtpunkt Los Angeles; and The Staked Plains. He lives with his wife Sanaz and three dogs in the North Bay Area, and teaches creative writing at Sonoma State University.
Excerpt from Knives, Forks, Scissors, Flames
He stood on the small cobblestone street, surrounded by Christmas lights and the smell of grilled sausage and cinnamon. It was so long ago that he had found the dead woman. Why should he care about her? His face turned into a grimace; he couldn’t do anything about it. Ashamed, he stared at the lightly soiled clouds above. His face was wet, and for a moment Benno thought that he was crying for the dead, but then he lowered his eyes, and he seemed all alone on this narrow street, with the newspaper in one hand and a lump in his throat, and the snowflakes fell around him. They seemed as clueless as he was, seemed to look hesitantly for a spot to land. Benno followed their course and didn’t move, didn’t want to get in their way.