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Self's Punishment (Gerhard Selb #1)

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  441 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
As a young man, Gerhard Self served as a Nazi prosecutor. After the war he was barred from the judicial system and so became a private investigator. He has never, however, forgotten his complicity in evil.

Hired by a childhood friend, the aging Self searches for a prankish hacker who’s invaded the computer system of a Rhineland chemical plant. But his investigation leads to
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 12th 2005 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published 1987)
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Marisa Fernandes
"Neblina sobre Mannheim" (em alemão "Selbs Justiz", título que em nada corresponde à versão portuguesa) corresponde ao livro de estreia de Bernhard Schlink, autor de "O Leitor". Trata-se de um livro escrito, nos anos oitenta, em parceria com Walter Popp. Foi inclusivamente este que trouxe Schlink, que sempre sonhara ser escritor (mas optou por uma carreira com juíz e professor de Direito), para o mundo da escrita.

Trata-se de um romance policial, um estilo algo distinto daquele que seguirá poste
First Sentence: At the beginning, I envied him.

Gerhard self has been a Nazi prosecutor, and is now a private investigator. When a computer hacker creaks into the systems of a chemical plant, Self is hired to find the hacker. When the hacker dies in an accident, Self isn’t so certain the verdict of “accident” is correct and ventures down a road that takes him back to the past.

The first difference between this, and most PI novels, is having a protagonist who is 68 years old. However, his age is c
Sep 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-germany
Self is a player and a guy who can hold his own in a bar fight and he's 68 years old. What I enjoyed most about this book was the mundane and menial things he does in the course of a day and that are all effortlessly communicated to the reader. In the middle of his many cases he takes a vacation to Greece too! It was refreshing to have a detective who should be retired and going on holiday wrestling with demons from his past as well as cavorting with younger women. The ending was truly a shocker ...more
Aug 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, european
From the blurb, you can probably work out that this isn't a noir styled book. A lot of the attraction comes from the eccentricity of both Gerhard Self, and the style of storytelling, which is often slightly arch and funny.

Which is rather unexpected given that Self is a widowed private detective, and ex-Nazi prosecutor. He is also the brother-in-law of the man who runs a major chemical company, part of the reason he's called in to help when the company falls victim to a computer hacker with his o
Michael Bohli
Nov 16, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Ein ruhiger Krimi mit einem Privatdetektiv, der gerne isst und sich nicht wirklich aus der Ruhe bringen lässt ist immer angenehm. So ist auch Gerhard Selb als 68 jähriger Deutscher ein angenehmer Gegenpol zu den blutrünstigen Thriller. Berhard Schlink und Walter Popp zeichnen ein nüchternes Bild von Ermittlungen und Intrigen, die bis in die tiefe Vergangenheit der Hauptperson zurückreichen. "Selbs Justiz" verbindet geschickt zwei Fälle und lässt das Verwirrspiel übersichtlich entfalten.

Doch leid
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vale per Schlink quanto detto per Schneider: i loro protagonisti , investigatori agées ben conservati, sono personaggi indimenticabili.Figure insolite nel giallo moderno.
Aug 21, 2009 rated it liked it
Schlink's detective stories aren't the best but as a writer he is a thrill to read. He writes tight and concisely and gives great descriptions of Germany,
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
interesting 68 year old protagonist
Tony Rampling
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Dec 09, 2012 rated it liked it
This review originally appeared on my blog at Please join the community and let us know the books you love.

There was a risk in picking up a book by Bernard Schlink after ‘The Reader.’ For over a decade, this book has remained one of my favourites and the only novel I have read by the author... until now. Perhaps I should have known that ‘Self’s Punishment’ wasn’t going to be another book that wedged itself firmly amongst my favourites, and yet there is s
Noch während ich das Buch las, habe ich 'recherchiert', ob es noch weitere Fälle in Bücherform von Gerhard Selb gibt. Das war nicht weiter schwierig, am Ende des Buches werden mindestens 2 weitere angepriesen. Es war jedenfalls ein Zeichen, dass mir dieses Buch hier sehr gut gefällt.
Sehr schöner Schreibstil, der mich anfangs irgendwie an Martin Suter erinnert hat (weil zum Anfang die Jugendfreundschaft zwischen Korten und Selb beschrieben wird, und mich das an die Freundschaft zwischen Konrad un
Johann Guenther
SCHLINK, Bernhard, POPP, Walter: „Selbs Justiz“, Zürich 2010
Schlinks erster Kriminalroman mit dem Privatdetektiven Selbs. Noch nicht alleine geschrieben, so wie die Folgebände. Der erste noch gemeinsam mit Walter Popp. Aber stilitisch gleich. Ich weiß es, habe ich doch in umgekehrter Reihenfolge gelesen. Ein Buch, das Genusslesen erlaubt. Abschalten; an etwas Anderes denken wollen. Eine Lesepille.
Zwei Fälle in einem Buch, die zusammenhängen. Zuerst der Auftrag eines Schulfreundes, der Generaldir
Feb 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
I thought this was an interesting book - for more than just the mystery portion of the plot. Private Detective Gerhard Self is a former Nazi prosecutor and a part of this past comes back to life while he's investigating a case. Since this is Bernard Schlink, I wasn't surprised this happened. I found it intriguing more in terms of how Self dealt with the guilt and dread his past brought back to him. Certainly, in terms of Mr Schlink's famous book "The Reader", this was another study in war guilt. ...more
Oct 14, 2009 rated it liked it
Perhaps this volume should be retitled Self Punishment. Schlink, the author of The Reader and various other well-conceived literary works that probe the dark side of guilt and commitment, offers a New Age detective.
Gerhard Self, an aging former Nazi prosecutor turned detective is commissioned by a former brother-in-law to smoke out a computer hacker at a major industrial firm. The case is rather convoluted and the subsequent murders seem rather contrived. Frankly, the plot is quite a mess and th
Jan 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german-books
What starts off as an interesting tale of computer hacking and industrial sabotage segues into one about more sinister wrongdoing and then becomes a story of a man being forced to confront his past as a public prosecutor under the Third Reich. The central character of Gerhard Selb, now a private detective, is engaging, which is a good thing as we do get to look at his life in great detail.

The chapters are short which makes for a page-turning read but I did find it hard to keep track of who every
May 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gelezen-in-2014
Bernhard Schlink is vooral bekend door zijn voortreffelijke boek 'De voorlezer', dat zich al jaren in mijn top 10 bevindt. 'Selbs Justiz' is het eerste deel van de Selb Trilogie. Schlink heeft dit boek samen met Walter Popp tijdens een verblijf in het Zuiden van Frankrijk geschreven.
Gerhard Selb, privédetective, wordt bij een opdracht met zijn eigen nazi-verleden geconfronteerd. Hij lost zijn opdracht op zijn eigen wijze en zeker niet volgens de wet op.
Net als bij andere boeken van Schlink spele
Aug 06, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ik was erg nieuwsgierig naar dit boek, vooral omdat ik van 'De voorlezer' genoten heb.
Selb is een oude privé-detective die vroeger nazi was.
Ook al heeft hij een afkeer van veel van zijn eigen, vroegere opvattingen gekregen, toch botst hij keer op keer tegen zijn verleden op.
Dit lijvige boek is een bundeling van drie verhalen, met Selb als hoofdpersonage.

Af en toe was ik de draad kwijt, omdat er een erg groot aantal personages in voorkomt. Ik ben een snellezer, en dat kan hier echt niet!
Plot was
Oct 01, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries
This is the first in a series featuring aging German PI Gerhard Self, who had served as a prosecutor under the Nazi's in WWII, and like many characters in other books by Bernhard Schlink (The Reader), is haunted by the individual and collective guilt created by the Nazi's. Self gets intertwined with an industrialist, an old friend, and detection ensues. Truly, there is very little mystery in this tale, much more an atmospheric deep dive into the daily life of an interesting old guy and more impo ...more
Jim Peterson
At work, I'm currently writing some reviews of books I read for the purpose of improving language skills, so I thought I'd add one or two to my goodreads account:

“Krimi mit Anspruch.” This is a small book that makes for a crisp, exciting and intelligent read. I read it early on when learning German and it wasn’t too difficult. I enjoyed it enough to go on reading the following two books of the trilogy. I would definitely recommend it to people learning German who are thinking of trying their ski
Martin Mulcahey
May 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Not a bad read at all, but don't look for flowery prose or exceptional description of places or atmosphere. Plot is good, and ending is excellent that does not follow the usual Hollywood ending which made me nearly give it a 4 star review. Maybe it was the translation, but the story moved in a very linear fashion A to B to C without much tension but did give good explanations for actions of protagonist. Worth a read, but not something that would make me buy second Self book right away... but if ...more
Guy Salvidge
Jul 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Not my favourite book of all time, this is nevertheless fairly unique in my reading experience. It's a detective novel set in Germany shortly before the reunification, and our detective, Self, is an unusual type in that he's a 68 year-old gourmand cum womaniser. There's some fairly dull passages to do with a complex plot relating to pollution control (!) but there's also some very interesting parts and a strong cast of characters. There are two more in this series and while I won't be rushing ou ...more
Mar 22, 2013 rated it liked it
This book caused me some mixed feelings.
At first I hated the main character. After a while I begun to understand him.
He is a private detective obsessed with his work. While he is trying to solve his latest case, his past begins to emerge in his memories and guilt drives his actions until the very end of the book.
Surely, this is not the best book that I have ever read but I strongly believe that is worth-reading.
M.J. Johnson
Nov 16, 2016 rated it liked it
I found this a bit ponderous, somewhat unbelievable from a character viewpoint and altogether a pretty disappointing thriller - I sort of vaguely guessed the plot (accurately) within the first fifty pages and couldn't believe how much padding I had to wage through to reach the conclusion, which I didn't fully believe. Despite this, the book does actually get better towards the end. I don't expect I'll be reading the other two books in the series.
May 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a deceptively straightforward mystery, full of local details (it's set in Germany) and local history. This attention to detail, the way the protagonist/narrator is embedded carefully in his world, makes this novel engaging as a realistic novel, not just a genre story. The writing is low-key, dryly funny, and the story is intriguing. Of note is that the translator is granted a kind of co-author status on the cover, which is refreshingly honest.
Oct 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
I had no information about this book when I started it. I received it electronically, and hadn't heard of it and didn't have any "book jacket" to refer to. I was not expecting it to be a detective story set in late 80s West Germany. But that it is, and it is really good. The intrigue of the detective work along with Self's own inner turmoil surrounding his war service was fascinating and hard to put down. One of the best crime/mystery books I've read in a long time.
Jul 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eine teils verworrene Geschichte mit großartigem Schreibstil. Man sollte keinen typischen Krimi erwarten, denn dazu fehlt doch etwas die entsprechende Spannung.
Und dennoch macht das Buch fast schon Spaß. Selbs Charakter macht hier sehr viel aus.
Bsp: Morgens nach durchzechter Nacht mit Freunden: Zitat " Um halb elf klingelte Röschen, die das Auto abholte. Ich warf den Morgenmantel über mein Nachthemd und bot ihr einen Sherry an. Ihre Brikettfrisur lag heute früh in Schutt und Asche." (S. 177)
Dec 24, 2009 rated it liked it
I don't read detective novels, and I would not have made it through this one had it been your run-of-the-mill detective story. I loved Schlink's writing style - the book is full of sentences that made me stop and think, sentences you absolutely wouldn't expect in a detective novel. I gave it only 3 stars since it did have some detective stuff that mainly bored me; the rest of it was very enjoyable - especially the writing.
Dec 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookcrossing
Ich habe es lang vor mir hergeschoben, dieses Buch zu lesen, hatte es seit Januar 2010 da. Nun bin ich endlich dazu gekommen und wunderte mich beim Lesen, warum ich das so lange aufgeschoben habe.
Das Buch hat eine etwas ältere Wortfolge und Satzbildung, aber es liest sich wirklich flott und ist sehr spannend. Es macht so viel Lust auf mehr, dass ich mich (in aller Ruhe ;-) ) aufmachen werde, "Selbs Betrug" und "Selbs Mord" zu finden und zu lesen. Wir werden sehen, wie lang das dauert.
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
This is translated from German and maybe because of this it didn't have great flow. I got very confused at times about what was happening and even after I was finished I wasn't sure if I understood the conclusion. The only saving grace was the main character, a sixty year old ex-lawyer turned detective who was well conceptualised, pity about the sloppy translation.
Mar 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I love this 68 year old ex-Nazi state prosecutor turned detective with his taste for Sweet Aftons, Aviateur cocktails and his cat-with-attitude, Turbo. I have read this Gerhard Self book several times and am confident will read it again, for this is writing at its best, most moral and most gripping.
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Bernhard Schlink is a German jurist and writer. He became a judge at the Constitutional Court of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia in 1988 and has been a professor of public law and the philosophy of law at Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany since January 2006.

His career as a writer began with several detective novels with a main character named Selb--a play on the German word for "sel
More about Bernhard Schlink

Other Books in the Series

Gerhard Selb (3 books)
  • Self's Deception (Gerhard Self #2)
  • Selbs Mord (Selb, #3)

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