“The Riddle of Room 622” (Harpervia English translation from French by Robert Bononno, 2022) is a new crime thriller from Swiss novelist Joel Dicker. Dicker trained as a lawyer as a fallback career, but always wanted to be an artist or a writer. Part autobiography, part counterintelligence novel, his new work is a frame story told by a writer named Joel, who is staying in room 623 of the Hotel Verbier near Geneva, Switzerland, to recover from death. of his longtime editor and a writing crisis. .
A tribute to Dicker’s actual editor, Bernard de Fallois, the mystery takes off when the writer finds that room number 622 has been replaced by room number 621A. He meets Scarlett, a beautiful young woman also staying at the hotel, and together they look into the mysterious numbering of the rooms. What they find is told between past and present around a corpse, an influential Swiss banking family, and the transition to a new bank president after the death of its leader, Abel Ebezner. The transition is controversial because Abel does not name his son Macaire as the bank’s next boss.
The fact that an Ebezner will not run the 200-year-old family business is compounded by the fact that 15 years earlier Macaire had traded his shares in the bank bequeathed by his father to an insidious businessman, Tarnagol, making him a member of the board of directors. When P-30, the counterintelligence agency, assigns Macaire the task of assassinating Tarnagol to prevent the destabilization of the Swiss bank, the story takes a surprising turn. Meanwhile, Macaire’s wife plans to leave him for his business rival, Lev. At this point, we’re only halfway through the twists and turns of this engrossing thriller, but even at nearly 600 pages, the novel flies toward an unexpected ending.
The wealthy in the novel dine at several real restaurants in Geneva, including Roberto’s, an Italian restaurant, and Brasserie Lipp, the more than 100-year-old institution founded by Leonard Lipp, a refugee from Alsace-Lorraine in Paris. The Lipp menu is full of German-style comfort foods similar to the recipe here. October seems right for this dish.
sauerkraut and apple sausages
1 package fully cooked chicken sausage or kielbasa
1 large yellow onion
1/2 teaspoon of thyme
2 tablespoons European butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 15 oz. can of good quality sauerkraut, well drained
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 firm baking apples, sliced
1 bay leaf
Mild German hot mustard for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium Dutch oven, cook the onion and sage in a tablespoon of butter until golden, about 10 minutes; remove and set aside. Add the olive oil to the skillet and brown the sausages, turning them on each side; put aside. Put the onions back in the pan with the sauerkraut and put the sausages on top. Add the wine, chicken broth and bay leaf to the skillet. Cover and transfer to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. While cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet and sauté the apples until tender, about 8 minutes. When ready to serve, transfer the sausages and sauerkraut to a serving platter. Place the sautéed apples on the side. Serve hot with French bread and German mustard. For 2 to 4 people.