Set in a small town in Switzerland, The Pledge centers around the murder of a young girl and the detective who promises the victim’s mother he will find the perpetrator. After deciding the wrong man has been arrested for the crime, the detective lays a trap for the real killer—with all the patience of a master fisherman. But cruel turns of plot conspire to make him pay dearly for his pledge. Here Friedrich Dürrenmatt conveys his brilliant ear for dialogue and a devastating sense of timing and suspense. Joel Agee’s skilled translation effectively captures the various voices in the original, as well as its chilling conclusion.
One of Dürrenmatt’s most diabolically imagined and constructed novels, The Pledge was adapted for the screen in 2000 in a film directed by Sean Penn and starring Jack Nicholson.
These are slender tales. But they have the weight and texture of classics. Mystery readers should be grateful to the University of Chicago Press for bringing these gems back to life.