SINCE leaving Amrum, a laid-back island community off the north-west corner of mainland Germany, Lena Lorenzen has established an entirely new life for herself as a detective inspector based in Kiel.
Suddenly, an unforeseen return to Amrum looms, at once disrupting Lena’s comfortable big-city routine, providing temporary respite from an increasingly claustrophobic relationship with a colleague, and reuniting her with a former boyfriend, Erck, and her beloved Aunt Beke.
The director of a children’s home has died while relaxing late one evening in a beach chair on Amrum’s famous strip of snowy-white North Sea sand. The signs suggest heart attack as the likely cause, but his widow has requested an autopsy and the possibility of poisoning with a fast-acting and all-but-undetectable substance has been raised.
Lena has never been a favourite at the station in Kiel so the superintendent’s decision to appoint her to this investigation is somewhat baffling. Is she being set up to fail, she wonders.
As her partner Lena is assigned Detective Sergeant Johann Grassmann: a dedicated, passionate and lateral-thinking young man eager to make his mark on the case while earning his senior officer’s respect.
On Amrum the two encounter a confusing web of contradictory statements and unexplained gaps in the timeline. Not even the local police account of the body’s discovery is complete.
The more Lena and Johann compile evidence, the more apparent it becomes that Hein Bohlen was a far more complex character than those around him knew.
Having behaved unpredictably in the days immediately preceding his death, he could well have fallen foul of any number of people. Could someone in his circle have been provoked to kill him?
Originally published in German, The Body on the Beach is the first in a series of English-language Lena Lorenzen novels from Northern Friesland native Johannsen and New Zealand translator Lisa Reinhardt.