Chase: The Hunt for the Mute Poetess is the first book to be translated from Mein Kopf Kino (Theatre of the Mind), a German project with a very noble aim.
All the books published under this banner are “movie-length” – they’re short enough to be read in under three hours, and can easily replace a night slumped in front of the TV.
While the idea is great, the execution is missing. Thomas Dellenbusch’s story is as Hollywood as it gets – a security firm with a secret lair teams up with a kung fu expert and a mute poetess as they race to decipher a code. In the meantime, they’re being chased by the local mafia for the secret that lies at the end of the hunt. If you’re looking for something more substantial than the latest blockbuster, you won’t find it here.
He quickly reached into the jacket of the now-unconscious man, pulled the weapon from its holster and pointed it, under the arm of his victim, at the other man. The whole thing took less than three seconds, so the second man had had no time to react.
This kind of over-the-top thriller would almost be forgivable if not for one excruciating detail: the forced love story. For a long time, it didn’t seem like there would be a love story, but then it jumped out from nowhere.
Rique went with Katja to his penthouse. By now, it was their habit to hold hands wherever they went.
And true, our hero had led Katja by the hand a few times before, but there’s a very important reason for this. Either he was leading her from danger or, as hinted in the title, Katja is deaf and mute. And Rique knows no sign language. The two had been unable to converse in any meaningful way, save for a few scribbled notes and a short sign language conversation through an elderly Asian man, yet love had found a way.
As with many translated works, the writing often felt disjointed. Perhaps a case of the translator adding their own style in places and being true to the original in others; perhaps a case of an inconsistent original.
Although Theatre of the Mind has a wonderful idea behind it, it’s unlikely to achieve its aim in its current format. Drawing people from their TV sets is hard enough as it is, but with such over-the-top stories that take inspiration from the very media it wants to displace, it’s almost impossible.