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Literature / Suspicion

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"We can't fight evil alone anymore, like knights setting forth against some dragon. Those times are over. It takes more than a little ingenuity to catch the criminals we're dealing with. You fool of a detective; time itself led you at absurdum."

Suspicion (German: Der Verdacht), also known as The Quarry, is a crime novel by Swiss author Friedrich Dürrenmatt. It is the sequel to "The Judge and His Hangman" (Der Richter und Sein Henker). It got published from September 1951 to February 1952 as a serial story in a Swiss newspaper.

What makes it different from other crime novels is that it is not about finding the culprit, but about bringing him to justice and whether or not the protagonist survives.

The story is set in Bern, Switzerland, in December 1948/ January 1949. Inspector Hans Bärlach is recovering from an operation in a hospital. While reading an article in a magazine about the horrors of concentration camp Stutthof near Gdansk, he witnesses how his friend and doctor Samuel Hungertobel turns pale.

That article features a picture of the German Dr. Nehle who carried out horrific experiments and vivisections on the prisoners. Turns out that Nehle looks a lot like an old acquaintance of Hungertobel - which is impossible, because Dr. Fritz Emmenberger had been in Chile during the war.

Hungertobel waves the whole situation off as a coincidence, saying that Nehle and Emmenberger simply do look a lot alike, but Bärlach is determined to get to the bottom of it.

Bärlach takes a false name and moves from Hungertobel's clinic to Emmenberger. He is confident to scare Emmenberger enough to make him confess.

But soon, Bärlach finds Emmenberger and his complete staff aware of his true identity and ready to kill him. Bärlach, having severely underestimated Emmenberger, loses complete control off the situation.

No relation to the Alfred Hitchcock movie.

Suspicion provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Affably Evil: Emmenberger is polite and Gulliver even admits that he tried to help the prisoners at Stutthof
  • The Alcoholic: Ulrich Fortschig.
  • Antiquated Linguistics: Justified. It’s mild case and the book was written in 1951/52.
  • Argentina Is Nazi-Land: Played with. Nehle, who may or may not have been a Nazi, was as Emmenberger in Chile during the war.
  • Armour-Piercing Question: Emmenberger keeps asking Bärlach what it is that he believes in. When Bärlach refuses to answer, Emmenberger even makes suggestions: Christianity, justice or maybe the law? Bärlach remains silent, forcing Emmenberger to go away in disgust.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Fortschig loves to complain about everything, especially the Swiss government, the city Bern and him being poor. He also loves to complain about Trolley buses, dogs, the radio, stamp collectors, ballpoints and traffic police. Bärlach calls him out on it.
  • Back-Alley Doctor: Nehle was a very good doctor, but his problems with Greek and Latin made it impossible for him to get a license.
  • Bad Liar: Hungertobel, according to Bärlach. He uses this as explanation to face Emmenberger himself.
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: What seemed to have happened with Edith Marlok. According to her, she’d been once a faithful young communist who believed in a better world. After being sent to Stutthof and working with Emmenberger she became a cynical, indifferent, misanthropic morpinhe-addict.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: Emmenberger’s point of view.
  • The Big Guy: Gulliver, whom the narrator often calls the giant. Also Nurse Kläri Glauber.
  • Big "NO!": Bärlach’s reaction to Marlok’s rant about how Emmenberger is a good guy for torturing people because people want to be tortured. It later turns into a Little "No" as Bärlach grows too weak to scream.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Emmenberger is dead and Bärlach is safe. But he is sicker and weaker than ever, Fortschig is dead and the world will never know that Nehle was innocent and Emmenberger a war criminal.
  • Break Them by Talking: What both, Bärlach and Emmenberger, try and fail to do to each other.
  • But Now I Must Go: Gulliver, taking the Dwarf with him
  • Catchphrase: Marlok’s C'est ça.
  • Crapsack World: Marlok and Gulliver believe this to be true. While Marlok became a drug-addict, Gulliver became a Vigilante Man.
  • The Cowl: Gulliver. He “lives in the darkness of graves and cellars and only the night knows his face” and few people even know he exists.
  • Culture Equals Costume: Gulliver is always wearing a worn out kaftan. This is intentional on his part. He uses it as a sign for him to be Jewish and refuses to wear anything different.
  • Deal with the Devil: Nehle agreed to switch identities with Emmenberger so that he can get his license as a doctor. Emmenberger uses Nehle's name while torturing and murdering people and later kills Nehle.
  • Death's Hourglass: There is a clock in Bärlach’s room, counting down the time he has left until Emmenberger plans to "operate" on him.
  • Deus ex Machina: Gulliver saves Bärlach from his deadly surgery in the nick of time.
  • Depraved Dwarf: Subverted with the Dwarf, who is actually a nice guy.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Bärlach. It almost killed him.
  • The Dragon: Dr. Edith Marlok
  • Drowning My Sorrows: When Bärlach asks Gulliver to describe what happened to him in the concentration camps he was in and what Emmenberger did to him, he drinks vodka, saying that he cannot bear remembering without getting drunk.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Bärlach’s plan to capture Emmenberger. It doesn’t work.
  • Everybody Smokes: Justified. It’s The '40s.
  • Evil Gloating: Emmenberger. Lampshaded by Bärlach.
  • Evil Redhead: Played straight with Emmenberger, subverted with Nehle
  • Faking the Dead: Gulliver survived a mass execution by the Nazis and decided to stay "dead".
  • Foil: Dr. Hungertobel to Dr. Emmenberger and Gulliver to Dr. Marlok.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Bärlach asks a colleague of his to get him a book from an old Jew owning an antiquarian bookshop. It’s called Gulliver's Travels. The colleague asks if it’s the book with the giants and dwarves. Later, we get both, Big Guy Gulliver and the Dwarf.
    • Bärlach having second thoughts about telling Fortschig to write an article about Emmenberger. Later, Fortschig is murdered.
    • Hungertobel tells Bärlach about an incident forty years ago about him, Emmenberger and three other medical students. One of them had an accident, forcing Emmenberger to operate on that guy without anesthesia.
    • Nurse Kläri Glauber – whom Bärlach initially believes to be able to pull a Mook–Face Turn – tells him to read her brochure: Kläri Glauber: Death, Goal and Purpose of our Moral Conduct. Later, she is revealed to sincerely believe that Emmenberger kills people out of love.
    • Kläri also says something about Bärlach getting another injection which confuses him. Then it is revealed that he was put into a coma for days using insulin
    • Even the use of insulin is foreshadowed by Hungertobel who states that Emmenberger has specialized in using the newly discovered hormones.
    • Emmenberger telling his nurses to move Bärlach from room 72 to room 15, where they would have "more control over him".
    • An article at the newspaper about Bärlach retiring is the main reason Emmenberger even recognizes Blaise Kramer as Hans Bärlach.
    • Bärlach begings suspecting Emmenberger to be a war criminal when his friend Hungertobel recognizes him on a picture in a magazine. Later, it’s a picture of Bärlach at the newspaper that tips off Emmenberger.
  • The '40s
  • Friend on the Force: Bärlach to Gulliver.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Subverted with Nehle who only appears to be this. Marlok also mentions a postcard painter with a ridiculous mustache to be her reason to immigrate to the Soviet Union.
  • Functional Addict: Dr. Marlok is addicted to morphine.
  • Glorious Mother Russia: Where Edith Marlok wanted to flee to after the Nazis took over Germany. Once there she quickly was put in prison and later handed over and put in a concentration camp anyway.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Inverted. Emmenberger has a burn on his arm and a scar across his eyebrow, while Gulliver is hideously scarred.
  • Gratuitous French: Dr. Marlok’s catchphrase: C'est ça.
  • Handicapped Badass: The Dwarf is not quite 80 centimeter (31.496 inches) tall and seems to suffer from some sort of mental retardation. He is also a strong and deadly assassin.
  • He Knows Too Much: Emmenberger’s reason to kill Bärlach and to have both Fortschig and Hungertobel assassinated. (Hungertobel and Bärlach are saved by Gulliver)
  • Herr Doktor: Nehle and probably Edith Marlok are German. Emmenberger and Hungertobel are Swiss.
  • Hero of Another Story: Gulliver, a Vigilante Man, Faking the Dead Nazi Hunter surley has some adventures of his own.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: War criminal Dr. Emmenberger is now leading a famous clinic for rich patients in Zurich.
  • Holier Than Thou: Emmenberger believes his morality to be superior and is disgusted with the lack of faith in anything he sees in his fellow human beings.
  • Hope Spot: Emmenberger never tortured the prisoners at Stutthof without their approval. He just promised them to bring them back from an extermination camp to a concentration camp after the "surgery" and they where desperate enough to believe him. He even kept his word after he performed a vivisection on Gulliver, the only one to survive a treatment of Emmenberger.
  • Hospital Hottie: Subverted with Dr. Marlok who looks very attractive after taking her morphine and some make up, but is displeasing without it. Averted with Nurse Kläri Glauber who is described as big, bulky and with a red head.
  • Insistent Terminology: Bärlach is a “KommissÄr” (Swiss German for “Inspector”), not a “KommissaAr“ (High German for “Inspector”). He keeps correcting Gulliver who keeps calling him Kommissar. This is changed to Inspector (Bärlach) vs. Commissar (Gulliver) in the English version.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: Gulliver sings a German nursery tune to mock Hans Bärlach, after he shows up to save him: Hänschen klein / ging allein / in den großen Wald hinein. (Little Hans / went alone/ out into the wide forest.)
  • It Amused Me: Emmenberger's whole reason to torture and murder his patients.
  • It's All About Me: Emmenberger believes the world to be a lottery and freedom to be the courage to do crimes, because freedom is a crime itself. He thinks that this gives him the right to murder and torture as he pleases.
  • Large Ham: Gulliver, Fortschig, Marlok and Emmenberger. Bärlach also has his moments.
  • Legally Dead: Gulliver. Bärlach tells him to get new documents already.
  • Mad Doctor: Emmenberger is a skilled scientist, he just likes operating on patients without anaesthetics.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: What the Dwarf did to Fortschig.
  • Misanthrope Supreme: Marlok doesn’t think highly of human beings, including herself.
  • Never Suicide: Used in combination with Make It Look Like an Accident. Emmenberger killed Nehle and made it look like a suicide. Gulliver later kills Emmenberger and makes it look like a suicide, too.
  • Nazi Hunter: Gulliver. He tells Bärlach to stick with "the mice of Bern", while he hunts "the rats of Stutthof".
  • No Name Given: The Dwarf.
  • Oh, Crap!: Bärlach, waking up after an induced coma, realizes slowly that he has lost control off his plan to bring Emmenberger to justice. He reads about the death of his friend Fortschig and realizes how he died. Then, he finds Emmenberger standing at the doorframe.
  • Only One Name: Gulliver and Dr. Nehle.
  • The Philosopher: Most of the characters, especially Gulliver, Emmenberger and Marlok.
  • Police Are Useless: Bärlach is bitter about having to retire, thinking that the police is unable to bring real criminals to justice.
  • Posthumous Character: Nehle died three years before the story even begins.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Emmenberger, Marlok and Gulliver to Bärlach. Bärlach tries to do this to Emmenberger and Marlok, but fails due to their sheer insanity.
  • Retirony: Played with. Bärlach is a cop facing retirement. He is also fatally ill and staying at a hospital. His dangerous last job would be capturing Emmenberger whom he first meets after he retired.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Bärlach gets compared to a knight a few times. Gulliver states that the times where a knight could set out into the world to slay dragons are over. Later, Bärlach wants Albrecht Dürer’s Knight, Death and the Devil to decorate his room at Emmenberger’s clinic.
  • Science Marches On: Hungertobel is skeptic of Emmenberger’s medical methods involving those strange "hormones" which they know not much about.
  • Sex for Services: Marlok became Emmenberger’s lover in order to survive Stutthof. Now, she is addicted to morphine and still "in love" with him.
  • Snow Means Death: It’s snowing heavily by the time Hungertobel moves Bärlach to Emmenberger’s clinic. While driving, Bärlach is brooding about death. Later, he remarks that the snow won’t stick long.
  • The Speechless: The Dwarf doesn’t speak, he only makes gurgling noises.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: Justified with Emmenberger who had to strap his patients down to operate on them without anesthetics.
  • Straw Nihilist: Dr. Marlok and Dr. Emmenberger, according to Bärlach.
  • Survivor Guilt: Gulliver. He not only is the sole survivor of Emmenberger’s experiments, but also survived a mass execution by the Nazis due to pretending to be dead.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Gulliver and the Dwarf.
  • Talking Your Way Out: Bärlach tries to do this with Nurse Kläri Glauber and Dr. Edith Marlok. He fails.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Subverted. It is a story about a war criminal of World War II but there are no actual Nazis in this story and Emmenberger himself is not a Nazi but worked for them for his own evil purposes.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Fortschig was told to leave the country as soon as he had written his article denouncing Emmenberger. He not only stays way longer than necessary, but also tells everyone where he is going and even throws a farewell party. Then, he gets murdered.
  • The Topic of Cancer: Bärlach is dying from cancer. At the beginning of the story he only has a year left to live.
  • Vigilante Execution: What happens off-screen to Emmenberger.
  • Vigilante Man: Gulliver became one after he "died".
  • Waking Up Elsewhere: Bärlach, after taking a pill from Emmenberger, wakes up days later in an unfamiliar room.
  • Yodel Land: Averted, given that the author was Swiss himself. See also Switzerland.
  • You Monster!: Emmenberger is called both a monster and a devil by various characters.