What We’re Reading: In Free Fall

Author: Juli Zeh
Publisher: Nan A. Talese
Page Count: 313

The Gist: As ransom for his kidnapped son, a German scientist has to kill a hospital administrator, and finds himself entangled in an elegant quasi-thriller about physics, murder, and the solving of murders—all of which are governed by uncertainty principles. On his tail are a policewoman with massive hands and an aging chief inspector, so weary of his work that he narrates his own actions as though he were a stock detective in a third-rate mystery. 

Does It Work? Although totally overlooked, this is one of the best books of the year. Zeh has enough control to keep the murder from being lurid and the physics from being dull. Her prose is sharp and often witty, and the excellent translation means every moment shines brightly, whether it’s two ducks swimming on a pond or a cyclist being decapitated by a cable stretched taut across the road.

Best Moment So Far: On just the 20th page, “‘I’m going to murder someone in four days,’ says Sebastian, ‘but I don’t know anything about it yet.'”

Odds We’ll Finish It: 1/1. We would have done so already, had the irritating demands of daily life (eating, for instance, and employment) not insisted on cropping up whenever we were about to sit down and read.

  What We’re Reading: In Free Fall