Culture bag column: murder in the back room

Doping, aces and million-dollar salaries: handball and tennis thrillers are a surefire bet if you want to write a novel right now.

Who was the murderer? Photo: pnetzer /

Of course, those who were there were horrified at first. After all, it’s not every day you see someone die. But after a few minutes in shock, a few almost relieved sighs could be heard on the sidelines of the tennis court.

He had always wanted this, said one of his mixed partners. And another said she wanted to die like that one day, just collapse on the tennis court and call it a day. She could not imagine a more beautiful death. She stuck to this opinion, even after the criminal police had determined that it was by no means a fatal heart attack, but a cowardly murder.

After Angelique Kerber’s success at the Australian Open, this country’s crime writers are finally entering new spheres. Now that regional crime novels have died a little, because more people have long since been killed in the regions in which they are set than have ever lived there, sports crime novels are pushing their way onto the scene. After Kerber’s victory, tennis thrillers have been given just as much chance as handball thrillers.

A father who lives for nothing other than his career and his daughter’s tennis career may be a minor character in a novel like Eva Menasse’s "Quasicrystals," but in a sports thriller it can be properly illuminated in all its abysses (love and abuse, jubilation and resentment), even if in the end it was the coach whom the father met with mistrust from the start. Readers may have guessed from the first page that he is in cahoots with this gang of shady guys who do nothing but spend the day philosophizing about the right bet for the next match, but that in no way detracts from the story about drugs, aces, backhands and million-dollar salaries.

Let’s be curious about the case of the young surprise European champion, who is found dead in his hotel room shortly after his team’s greatest triumph.

Authors who have set out to establish the genre of the handball novel will have to really stretch for the ceiling if they want to keep up. The German men’s European championship title may give them a boost, but they’ll have to come up with the good stories themselves. Let’s be curious about the case of the young surprise European champion who is found dead in his hotel room shortly after his team’s greatest triumph. Drugs? Doping? Or was it sudden cardiac death, which has already claimed the lives of other competitive athletes?

The fact that the investigations of the retired, dishonorably discharged, or in some other way private detective, bon vivant and womanizer, who has taken on the case, have also brought to light a connection to the Russian-German community from which the young handball player comes, makes the handball thriller a real reading experience for all those who have so far been interested primarily in murders in the Eifel, the Rhon, the Bavarian foothills or the Weserbergland. The fact that the fatally prepared voltaic tablet, which the athlete threw in during the break of the European Championship final, was placed in his toilet bag by the pharmacy assistant he had abandoned, gives the story the personal touch it needs for a sales success and a mention in the customer magazine of Deutsche Bahn.

Crime writers of the country, use the favor of the hour! Write about murder and manslaughter between aces, returns, breaks and longline winners, let the readers become investigators between seven-meters, backcourt giants and middle blockers!

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