This book is the debut thriller by the author, whom some of us might know as Kerstin Pflieger as well. For some reason, the cover made me curious – and I am still trying to figure out why or what the motive shows, except for the drops of blood. I never thought that I would be among those happy few, who could read this debut thriller during a reading challenge. There were so many applying for the challenge! So, thank you to the publisher Diana Verlag for sending me this book and the author for answering all the questions we had. 

Die Bestimmung Des Bösen*
by Julia Corbin
Hall & Hellstern Series #1
Publisher Diana Verlag on May 9, 2017
Genre Thriller
Pages 416
Format Softcover
Source Publisher
“Close your eyes, and count to hundred.” These are the last words Alexis heard from her father. Shortly thereafter her parents are dead, and the little girl remains as an orphan, traced by traumatic memories. (personal translation by ©Vi at Inkvotary)

Alexis is confronted with the evil act of a killer, who seems to torture his victims in a very special way. Together with her friend Karen, a biologist, she goes on the hunt to not only find the killer but also to stop him. During her work, she discovers, that her own past seems to be kind of a key to the riddle she is trying to solve. Is there really a gene that makes humans bad? And is she carrying it deep inside her? Was she really the object for her father´s studies of the bad? Many questions, even more fears, and colleagues who want answers and that she trusts them. But why can´t she?

One thing is for sure: There isn´t one boring page in this thriller. From the very beginning to the last page you are fascinated and eager to see how Alexis and her team will solve the crime. A fine irony, a decent and clear language, and characters who are very interesting and profound shape this book into a solid, and well entertaining thriller. Good, there are a few weak spots in the plot, but the psychological finesse and the Criminalistics basis undo that in a very nice way. Julia Corbin has a wonderful complex writing style. The way how the biological knowledge is presented, how Karen teaches not only the figures but the reader as well is maybe, in the beginning, a bit dry, but that changes during the ongoing story very soon. You can actually feel her passion for what she is doing, and the excitement, that a tiny little insect is able to tell you the exact time of death or where a corpse was actually coming from. 

For the attentive reader, and those, who are familiar with the rules and principles of a thriller, it becomes a strong feeling from a certain point of suspicion - if not clear - who the killer is. And from that moment on, for me, it was no longer a question of whether it was that person, but rather how Alexis and her colleagues nail down and convict that person.

The author has created very different figures in this thriller. The arrogant scientist is as well to find as the scared woman who fears nothing more but to get turned into the real evil. But no matter where you look, all figures are profound, well created, and seem like they were taken from real life.

Alexis is a woman, I couldn´t get warm with. Though she is a very interesting and smart woman. But for my taste way too scared of what might be inside her only because of a gene, too aloof and too barred. She lets her doubts and fears control her life. And the fact that she only opens herself when she is forced to by something that happened or another person put some pressure on her, wasn´t helping.

Karen is quite the opposite. A warm and caring person who is with body and soul a biologist. What she can see when she does her studies, when she is out in the field to control her traps and how she figures out where a corpse was and other things, that was really amazing and very fascinating. As much as she is doing her job with passion, she is also a very alive woman and sees things, Alexis denies. 

A solid, well-made thriller. There is not a page where you start to feel boredom. In the end, I was in a strange mood, a bit stunned, and needed some time to let everything sink in. Overall, this thriller is a beautiful one, which has a few weak points, shows the reader along the way some things about the nature of humans, and teaches biological facts without being instructive at all. Although this book lacks the wow effect, it is compensated by the varied story and the mixture of psychology and a crime-based basis. For thriller and crime fans a clear recommendation.

Happy reading

* This book was, at the time this review was published, only available in the German language and kindly provided to me by Diana Verlag in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. 

Julia Corbin
Julia Corbin ©Angelica Schwab

Julia Corbin, aka Kerstin Pflieger, was born in 1980 and studied biology in Heidelberg. The work as a biologist (she worked amongst others for an institute for biological mosquito control) also inspired her to her first thriller. The author got to know different cultures and ways of thinking at an early stage by traveling to the coasts of Europe, Africa, and Asia, and she also discovered her love for writing. Her passion for thrill lives the author not only in her books but also in sports such as kite- and windsurfing or as extreme steeplechaser. She lives with her dogs in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, and gives courses in creative writing.


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