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Synopsis

A German bestseller, winner of the European Union Prize for Literature, and longlisted for the German Book Prize in 2006, Paulus Hochgatterer has created a chilling psychological thriller a group of damaged people living in a pleasant and seemingly tranquil Austrian village. It's the Christmas holiday, the presents have been opened, and a six-year-old girl is drinking cocoa and playing with her grandfather. The doorbell rings, and the old man gets up. The next time the girl sees her grandfather, he is lying by the barn, his skull broken; his face a red pulp against the white snow. From that time on, she does not speak a single word.

Along with Detective Superintendent Ludwig Kovacs, Raffael Horn, the psychiatrist engaged to treat the silent child, reluctantly becomes involved in solving the murder. Their parallel researches sweep through the town: a young mother who believes her new-born child is the devil; a Benedictine monk who uses his iPod to drown the voices in his head; a high-spending teenager who tortures cats. With his background as a child psychiatrist, Hochgatterer draws back the veil of normality and presents a disconcerting portrait of a winter-held town filled with unsavory inhabitants.

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