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The Soul Breaker
by Sebastian Fitzek
Review

THE SOUL BREAKER

Cover image of the book 'The Soul Breaker' by author Sebastian FitzekThe Soul Breaker destroys women.

He doesn’t kill them or mutilate them. But he leaves them completely dead inside, paralyzed and catatonic. His only trace a note left in their hands.

There are three known victims when suddenly the abductions stop. The Soul Breaker has tired of his game, it seems.

Meanwhile, a man has been found in the snow outside an exclusive psychiatric clinic. He has no recollection of who he is, or why he is there. Unable to match him to any of the police’s missing people, the nurses call him Casper.

Casper makes little progress regaining his memory, but he grows restless and wants to leave the clinic to piece together the few clues to his life. But the weather has taken a turn for the worse, and the clinic becomes completely cut off to the world outside.

No one is able to reach the clinic, and its staff and patients cannot leave.

So when the head psychiatrist is found trembling, naked and distraught, with a slip of paper clasped in her hands, it seems somehow the Soul Breaker has returned.

Cover image of the book 'The Soul Breaker' by author Sebastian Fitzek

SEBASTIAN FITZEK

Image of author Sebastian FitzekSebastian Fitzek was born in Germany in 1971. After attending law school and being promoted to LL.D. he decided against a juridical profession in favour of a creative occupation in the media.

After the traineeship at a private radio station, he switched to the competition as head of entertainment, becoming chief editor. Thereafter he became an independent executive consultant and format developer for numerous media companies across Europe.

Sebastian is one of Germany’s most successful authors of psychological thrillers. His books have sold over 11 million copies, been translated into more than 24 languages, and have been the basis for international theatre and cinema adaptations.

He was the first German author to be awarded the European Prize for Criminal Literature.

Sebastian lives with his family in Berlin.

Keep up to date with all Sebastian’s news at his website

Follow Sebastian on Twitter

Connect with Sebastian on Facebook

“The most frequently asked question has to be: “Don’t you have to be a maniac yourself in order to write about that sort of thing?” Back then I often replied with a counter question, asking the readers if there was something wrong with them, because they actually spend money to let me pass my nightmares on to them”

Cover image of the book 'The Soul Breaker' by author Sebastian Fitzek

FIRST LINES

SEVENTYONE DAYS BEFORE THE FEAR

Page 1 ff. of patient’s record no. 131071/VL

Luckily it was all just a dream. She wasn’t naked, nor were her legs strapped to that antediluvian gynaecological chair while the maniac sorted out hi instruments at a rusty side table. When he turned round she couldn’t see at first what he was holding in his blood-encrusted hand. Then, when she did see it, she tried to shut her eyes but failed….

Cover image of the book 'The Soul Breaker' by author Sebastian Fitzek

MEMORABLE LINES

“In the few sessions they’d had together, Sophia had become a sort of sheet anchor in the ocean of his consciousness. And now she was going to sever the anchor chain”

.

“His memories were like pieces of furniture in an empty house whose previous owner had shrouded them in dust sheets. Until yesterday he’d tried to tear the dust sheets off. Today he was afraid they might be concealing some terrible truth”

.

“The truth is to be found in every single sentence on every single page, but you’ve skimmed over it”

.

“Caspar felt like a captive beast in a zoo being watched by an insane visitor who has set fire to its cage and is blocking its only means of escape”

.

Surprising, thought the professor as he turned away from Lydia and her notes. Really surprising how, in spite of drawing the wrong conclusions, one can arrive at the correct and all-important question

.

“A crisis is said to resemble a sharp fruit knife. It removes the peel and exposes the core: the amorphous, largely instinct-governed primordial state in which morality is dominated by self-preservation”

Cover image of the book 'The Soul Breaker' by author Sebastian Fitzek

REVIEW

“It wasn’t murder, it wasn’t rape, it wasn’t torture; this crime was far, far worse”

The real crime about this book, was definitely that I spent so much time sat on the edge of my seat, glued to the pages, that I had a numb bottom and a completely messed up head, by the end! It really is no surprise that I suffer with Nosocomephobia (that’s a fear of hospitals in everyday language) and that’s just as a visitor, mention an appointment and I am like someone demented, which also rather neatly sums up part of this, for me, very uncomfortable, claustrophobic and nerve-wracking journey into the minds of both victims and perpetrators.

The page-turning story hit the ground running with those very first lines, no slow build up to the plot here. The action wasn’t fast paced, although the many twists and turns, kept things moving along steadily and seamlessly. The ending was  more or less what I was expecting, although even then Sebastian had to sneak in another genius variable, which left things over, yet up in the air! To be fair, the final twist was just about the only element of the storyline I saw coming with any real accuracy, everything else had me playing catch-up, – and I thought I had a rather devious streak in me when it comes to working out thriller plots, but this one was something else!

The story is narrated in dual timelines, although it doesn’t dive back and forth too many times and the well signposted, considered length chapters, made things easy to keep track of. Very well structured, intensely textured and multi-layered, this lugubrious storyline was quite unique and unconventional, putting me very much in mind of the 1970s film Coma, an adaptation of the Robin Cook book of the same title. Those underground hospital  corridors that go on forever, with lighting that only operates as you approach it and then switches neatly off as you pass, always leaving you in semi-darkness. Those sterile rooms full of machinery which is always large and noisy, concealing a whole host of real and imagined horrors. Those areas of hidden terror, the pathology departments and morgues, where anything or anyone might lurk in the shadows. A sense of time and place which was so strong as to cause a palpable tension within me.

As well as being a consummate and powerful storyteller, Sebastian is an author skilled in the visual depth, desperate intensity and immersive qualities of his narrative and dialogue. He writes with total authority and complete confidence, about a subject he has clearly thoroughly researched and manages to tie up all those loose ends neatly. Sometimes the technical details were a little overwhelming, but I needed to be clear in my own mind what was happening in this distorted picture, so that little bit of extra concentration on my part, really paid off in the long run. Wow! are these people weird or what! What kind of socially depraved caves do they inhabit, that they really think that playing with people’s minds, making them like the walking dead, is in any way acceptable!

Sebastian paid great attention to detail when he cleverly crafted a small cast of completely unlikable, complex characters, who have been afforded individually strong, almost malevolent voices, with which to tell their story of dark dread and menace. Each one of them has some kind of axe to grind, or a deep, dark secret which they wish to remain hidden. There can be no sense of working together to outwit a common enemy, as each of them is a suspect in the others take on the situation, so there is no one foe to fight for, in this emotionally disturbing, complex snapshot of mans inhumanity to man.

Image of author Sebastian Fitzek

A Kindle download of this book for review and promotional purposes, was kindly gifted to me by the publisher, Head of Zeus, with the download being facilitated by NetGalley.

Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article which promotes this book or its author.

I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 5 out of 5 stars!

 

Written by
Yvonne

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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8 comments
  • This sounds really interesting…the title alone is intriguing enough, and he is a German. (German crime stories are pretty boring and mostly are copycats from American one) Is this a translated version or did he write it in English?

    • Hi Angie,

      I have been reading Sebastian’s books for some time now and have to say that I love his style of writing.

      I do tend to find them very similar to Scandi and Nordic Noir, in that they are quite, dark, slow burning storylines. However, the twisted nature of his plots and the psychological impact of the intense narrative and dialogue, gets me every time!

      Sebastian does write in German, although the translations to English are always totally faultless, with the narrative completely conversational, natural and fluid in the translated language.

      I hope that you decide to try reading one of his books for yourself, one of these days, because I’m sure you will enjoy the experience.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and I hope that all is well with you 🙂

  • Another book by Fitzek. A dual timeline is not something that I am keen on, but if it’s signposted and the story doesn’t change too often I think it can work beautifully. I should check for this book, because the one I read by him was very interesting and this one seems to be just as good if not better.

    • Hi Anca,

      Don’t get too hung up on the dual timeline of this story, as it only switches back and forth a couple of times, the chapters are clearly marked, and if you are reading the story the changes are really obvious!

      I still don’t think I have quite caught up with all the Fitzek books I have in my schedule, as I still have ‘Passenger 23’ to read!

      As my posts are few and far between these days, I really appreciate your ongoing support, it is always lovely to hear from you and I hope that you are well 🙂

  • This sounds quite creepy and intense! If I weren’t so backed up with my reading, I would consider putting it on my wishlist. The reference to “Coma” is a plus!

    • Hi Kelly,

      I was almost down to some sense of normality with my reading schedule, but being auto-approved by publishers on NetGalley has really screwed that option and now I am back to square one. And I still haven’t made a final decision about the fate of Fiction Books!!!

      All that aside, I have some great books to look forward to, although Sebastian Fitzek’s storylines are always going to be the amongst the most mind-bending and eerily creepy!

      I can always remember watching the original 1978 version of “Coma”, back in the day when I fancied the pants off Michael Douglas, and being scared witless. I’m a massive wuss when it comes to hospitals anyway and that film definitely didn’t help any!

      Have you reopened your Blog again for comments, or is the caption competition a one-off?

Written by Yvonne

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