“Wonderfully terrifying novel from a leading thriller writer.”—Le MondeWhen David Ninochvili arrives from war-torn Georgia, the peaceful existence of a schoolteacher’s family in Germany comes to an abrupt end. Christian Kestner has all but forgotten his stay in Tbilisi seven years before under Soviet rule, but when he receives a letter from David announcing his visit, he b“Wonderfully terrifying novel from a leading thriller writer.”—Le MondeWhen David Ninochvili arrives from war-torn Georgia, the peaceful existence of a schoolteacher’s family in Germany comes to an abrupt end. Christian Kestner has all but forgotten his stay in Tbilisi seven years before under Soviet rule, but when he receives a letter from David announcing his visit, he begins to worry. Why is David coming? To seek revenge for a relationship that Christian had with his wife? To conspire with one of the different factions now vying for the control of Georgia? Christian becomes intensely suspicious of David’s secretive ways, jealous of the Georgian’s attraction to his wife, and even resentful of his relationship with his teenage son. Fear turns into panic, a feeling so corrosive that it almost transforms this most rational individual into a monster.Hans Werner Kettenbach came to writing late in life, publishing his first book at the age of fifty. His previous jobs include construction worker, court stenographer, football journalist, and foreign correspondent in New York. Five of his thrillers have been made into successful films, including Black Ice, previously published by Bitter Lemon Press.In 2009 he won the Glauser award (Germany's most prestigious crime writing prize) for lifetime literary achievement....
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David's Revenge Reviews
Originally published in 1994, this psychological thriller has a bit of a time capsule feel to it when read today. The story revolves around German high school history and drama teacher Christian Kestner. In the mid 1980s, he traveled to Soviet Georgia on a cultural exchange trip, during which he had a minor flirtation with the wife of one of his hosts. That's all but forgotten when some seven years later, he receives a letter from the man, asking if he can host him during a trip to Germany he's taking to try and get German publishers interested in Georgian literature.Now Kestner is conflicted between his past suspicions that maybe the man and his wife were KGB affiliates trying to entrap him, and his desire to be a proper host to a foreign intellectual. When the titular David does arrive with a shabby suitcase and brimming with bonhomie and good looks, it starts to pull Kestner's family apart. In the midst of his visit, civil war heats up in Georgia, and where David's loyalties lie is a bit of a mystery. Is he an ultranationalist believer in ethnic purity, putting him possibly in league with a local right-wing leader? Or is he an intelligence agent here to murder German spies? Or is he a jealous husband, seeking to revenge himself on Kestner by seducing his wife? Or, is he a secret refugee, hoping to claim asylum? Or, as Kestner's wife claims, is he just a proud but poor visitor, trying to sell literature? Or a combination of some of these?That's the central tension of the book, along with what Kestner aims to do about it. Without spoiling anything, I will simply say that readers who like clear resolution to the stories may not find the end of this book enjoyable. I have to put myself in that camp, because while I enjoyed the ambiguity as the story unfolded, I did so believing that all secrets would eventually be revealed, and while I kind of respect how the book ends, I can't say I enjoyed it.
PROTAGONIST: Christian Kestner, high school teacherSETTING: GermanyRATING: 2.75Christian Kestner is a teacher of German history in high school who at one point visited Tblisi in Georgia, staying with a man named David Ninoshvili and his wife Matassi. Christian and Matassi engaged in some flirting and a bit of petting; ever since, Christian has wondered if the sexual opportunity was set up by David in hopes of blackmailing Christian. It’s seven years later, and David has let Christian know that he is planning to visit Germany in order to have some of his work published and would like to stay with Christian and his wife, Julia, and son, Ralf. Christian’s paranoia goes into full gear—why is David visiting now? Is he seeking revenge for Christian’s “tryst” with Matassi? Is he some kind of secret agent? What information could a teacher of German history possibly have that would interest Ninoshvili? When David arrives, Christian is immediately suspicious and very unwelcoming. It doesn’t help that Ralf, with whom Christian has an extremely contentious relationship based on their widely differing political views, has made a connection with David. Or that Julia, an intelligent and able lawyer, spends an inordinate amount of time with David, even traveling with him overnight. Given the fact that Christian is subject to wild flights of fancy over almost every event in his life, the situation soon becomes intolerable. Christian spies on David, goes through his things, with David always treating him graciously and with gratitude for the hospitality he is receiving. Does David truly have some nefarious purpose, or is Christian a victim of his own paranoia?The difficulty with DAVID’S REVENGE is that the book is told from the point of view of an unreliable narrator, and it is impossible to separate reality from Christian’s delusions. He is an insufferable man, very judgmental and quite arrogant about his intellectual abilities. The story becomes quite confusing as the narration plays out his imagined events. His real actions punish others, such as a student who pulled a stupid prank, in ways that are severe and inappropriate. The character of Christian Kestner is one that is interesting in a psychological sense; a theoretically reasonable and intelligent man becomes a monster before our eyes.I am normally a fan of international noir, but DAVID’S REVENGE was not a book that I enjoyed at all. There were long digressions into Georgian literature and history that I found tedious. It was well past the halfway point that I became engaged in the book. Overall, I'd have to say that my frustration and irritation with the protagonist doomed the reading experience for me.
Oh to be scared of the Russians!! A German teacher is visiting a friend in Russia & gets into a compromising situation with friend's wife. From then on, he suspects that this was a "setup" & the Russian's will make him be a spy as they have something on him. The friend visits in Germany & David is never quite sure about any of this. To the very end!! Somewhat amusing, the whole situation.
I like this kind of psychological thriller. The setting is also interesting and realistic. It shows the deep mistrust which can exist between Eastern and Western Europeans.I have posted a longer review on my blog. http://raimundstrauck.wordpress.com/2...
A fascinating story illustrating how easy deep emotions against unknown cultures, old legends and rumours can influence behaviour of modern well educated people. And I like books with vague open ends...