Wolfram Fleischhauer isn’t a name many readers of English language crime fiction are likely to know. Not yet, anyway. Having written in several genres, his book Fatal Tango has just been published in English by Amazon. Promising dancing, passion and some soul-searching digging up of the past in Argentina, Fatal Tango is full of crime, suspense and mystery. We invited the writer for a virtual visit to Crime Fiction Lover in order to find out more about him and his book. Could he be the first of many new German crime authors on the scene?
First of all, tell us a little bit about Fatal Tango – introduce it for our readers?
Fatal Tango is a suspense novel set in the world of ballet and tango. For about 10 years I danced tango practically every day and the idea for the novel grew from that passion. I had a story in mind where readers would actually have to ‘learn’ to dance tango in order to solve the mystery, so all plot points and story reversals are connected to tango steps that the reader learns to decipher along with the protagonist. Of course, it is also a love story and a political thriller. But in a nutshell you could call it The Tango Code.
The book deals with politics, love and dancing. Where did the idea for the story come from?
The central idea occurred to me while I was watching people dance. I was intrigued by their intricate way of communicating via a highly stylised body language. The rest came from research. I went to Buenos Aires three times and every visit added another layer to the story. In the beginning I just wanted to find out more about tango, especially the music. Then it practically blew up in my face.
What are some of the secrets and mysteries that they unravel?
Tango is ridden with clichés. It is one of those things that everyone has some sort of opinion about. But on closer inspection they all fall apart. One of the most striking mysteries for me was the fact that the tango renaissance in Europe and the US coincided with the peak of militant feminism. Tango had been practically dead for 30 years when it suddenly sprang to life again in the mid 1980s. Why just then? Lindsey, one of the characters in the novel, has an interesting theory about that.
What do you hope lovers of crime fiction will enjoy most about Fatal Tango?
I hope that first of all they will enjoy entering a world that they would not normally have access to. At least this is what I love about a good story – going somewhere I would probably not have been able to go on my own. My second hope is that it will be a page-turning reading experience that will leave you wanting to put on your dancing shoes or maybe visit a tango bar or concert in your neighborhood. A novel should entertain, enlighten and inspire. It should make your life richer.
We see plenty of translations of Scandinavian books, but German crime fiction is quite rare. Why do you think that is, and what is the crime and mystery scene like in Germany?
That’s a really interesting question. When I tried to publish my first novel in the 90s – a historical novel with a mild postmodern narrative angle – several German publishers suggested I should use an American pseudonym. I’m sure had I written a thriller back then the reaction would have been the same. But the problem is not that German authors don’t like to write thrillers. For the past 50 years the tendency of the majority of German writers has been to turn away from storytelling. This is changing now and once storytelling is back, quality genre fiction will also be back, including crime fiction, thrillers and even science fiction.
The German edition of the book came out 12 years ago. Which of your other crime books will we be able to read in English, and what are you working on next?
In Germany I have just published Torso, a thriller set in present day Berlin. This will probably be the next one to come out in the US. Two very successful but not crime-related earlier novels of mine have also been translated and are ready for editing, but since one of them has been optioned for the screen, the discussion about when to publish what and where is still ongoing.
At present I am working on a novel that deals with the Germans’ very particular relationship with forests. The book might qualify as a crime-related novel since there are two bodies in chapter two. But of course, there is more to it. There will be elements of crime and suspense, but no detectives. Just a young woman wandering into the woods and never being the same afterwards…
Fatal Tango is out now for Kindle and as a paperback. We also have a competition here on the site offering you the chance to yourself a copy (UK only) – just click here. Watch for our review soon.