Famed German Crime Writer Takes A Stab At The U.S. Market

By Stephen Fuchs on Email @StephenWFuchs

Stacked Books

Whether you’re a top-selling artist, musician, or author, crossing over into a new international market can be a hit or miss, and often it turns out to be a miss.  That isn’t stopping one of Germany’s best-selling authors from giving it a try though.  Nele Neuhaus quickly gained fame in Germany for her best-selling crime novels and her popularity quickly spread throughout Europe and many parts of Asia.  With more than three million books sold to date, she is ready to take on the the U.S. market with the release of “Snow White Must Die” translated into English.

The book is set in Altenhain, a village near Frankfurt, where a recently released murderer returns home after spending a decade behind bars for killing two teenage girls.  One of the victims was a dark-haired girl who was picked to play Snow White in a high school play before her death.  Now that the released felon is back, a similar crime occurs, and outrage in the town ensues.  “Snow White Must Die” will have you guessing whether the man who served his time is behind the new murder, and whether he was really the killer in the first two incidents.

It sounds like a compelling story, but that is not where the complications in bringing the story to the States lies.  No German crime writer has been able to match their success seen in Germany here in the United States.  The problem generally doesn’t come from a lackluster storyline, but from the fact that many German crime novels are filled with details that are very regional  and contain inside jokes that won’t have the same impact on non-locals.

In their writeup about Neuhaus’ entry to the U.S. market, the Wall Street Journal captured the cultural issue by stating “The characters eat jagerschnitzel and have names like Hartmut Sartorius and Udo Pietsch. U.S. readers may find themselves tripping over sentences such as: ‘Gregor Lauterbach nodded to his office manager Ines Schurmann-Liedtke and stepped into his big office in the Cultural Ministry of the state of Hessen on Luisenplauz in Wiesbaden.'”

Despite the many cultural differences, few European authors have bucked the trend to find success with their work in America.  Take Stieg Larsson for example with his best selling “Millennium Trilogy.”  Originally a hit in Sweden and the rest of Europe, his books became an overnight hit in the U.S. with more than 23 million copies sold.  But that is still considered an exception to the the normal trend.


We always feel it is important to support the work of German authors and musicians trying to make an impact in the United States, so if crime novels are your thing, consider checking out Nele Neuhaus’ “Snow White Must Die”.  It is available for pre-order at Amazon.com in both the physical and digital form and in Apple’s iBooks store with a delivery date of January 15.


Source: Wall Street Journal
Photo by Chris via flickr

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Stephen Fuchs
Stephen founded German Pulse and LGBT Germany out of a passion to introduce Americans to a Germany that goes beyond beer and polka (although with enough beer he has been known to polka it up a bit). He's a coffee addict, lover of wine and good times, a hit in the kitchen and editor of TV commercials. You can follow him on Twitter (@StephenWFuchs) to find out a lot more.
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