“Morgue Drawer For Rent” by Jutta Profijt
What’s it about? It is a crime thriller I suppose. It has humorous moments in it and it is told from a unique perspective but it deals with a dark subject – organ trafficking and body snatching. Sounds entertaining doesn’t it??! Believe me, it is entertaining and even the dark subject matter isn’t really that dark.
A couple of bodies are stolen from the morgue after a cost cutting exercise by a new Director, and when other bodies are mutilated (skin and eyes stolen) things get worse for the staff at the Institute. The new night-watchman doesn’t appear to be up to the job and after an attempted break in where one of the doctors is seriously assaulted, things hit crisis point. The penny pinching Director decides that the best use of morgue space is to hire out the drawers to the police and to funeral homes whenever they need them. It gets complicated when bodies get mixed up and unidentified bodies go missing. What is the connection between the missing bodies and the gorgeous granddaughter of the night-watchman? Will Martin be able to hold on to his job? Will Pascha ever be able to keep his word and give Martin some space to enjoy his life??
Where is it set? It is set in Cologne in Germany (the original was written in German and I read the English translation). The main setting is the Institute for Medicine (the morgue and the offices) but we are treated to the action happening all around Cologne and we learn a little bit about the beautiful city.
Who are the main characters? We have Martin (a coroner) and we have Pascha (a deceased car thief who hasn’t yet found the light). Martin is the only person Pascha can communicate with which causes whole loads of problems for him. This is the third book in the series and we see a few changes in both of the main characters, mainly that Pascha develops a conscience and decides that he has to leave Martin alone so that he can get on with his own life!
How well is it written? It is a well plotted story but there are obvious plot holes in it and there are a couple too many leaps in it to say it is a brilliantly plotted story. It’s difficult to comment on the language because as I said before, it is a German book that has been translated into English so some syntax isn’t quite as smooth as you’d get in an English or American novel. On the whole though, it is a plausible scenario – just about! – and the characters are believable and there is a logical conclusion. I love the way that Pascha breaks the fourth wall (in a sense), and speaks to the reader directly now and again.
My overall impression? I loved this book, as I did the first two in the series. The sub-plot of Pascha writing his stories down (don’t ask!) and pushing for them to get published is a nice little sideline and the Epilogue is a neat little twist. I won’t give it away but if you read all three books then it is a perfect ending. I felt sorry for Pascha throughout the series and I wished that he would have had a better life before he died rather than improving it afterwards. I like Martin but he’s one of those characters that if you ever met him in real life you’d have to give him a shake….or a slap. He’s a bit of a Mr Magoo character and he is so squeaky clean it’s almost painful. Actually, it’s that squeaky clean-ness of Martin that makes his and Pascha’s relationship all the more entertaining. Pascha is definitely the opposite of Martin but they do manage to rub along together to get the job done.
Will I read the next in the series? Well, if there is another in the series then yes I would definitely read it. I’m curious to see how it pans out and whether Pascha ever sees the light, literally, and moves on to the afterlife. I also want to see how Martin’s relationship with Birgit works out. There are a couple of loose ends, but this book more or less tied things up at the end. I think there is more mileage to be had out of the characters yet though and I would love to read the next, and the next, and the next….
Would I recommend it to my friends? Yes, but I would be careful who I would recommend it to. I think you’d have to have a quirky sense of humour to appreciate the comedy in the midst of death in it. As most of the stories are set around the morgue and involve the seedier side of the human character they might not be to everyone’s taste. However, if you can suspend your sense of disbelief a bit, and if you have a bit of gallows humour about you then this is most definitely a series to get into.