Extract from Michael Mitchell's translation

Friedrich Glauser's Thumbprint

A man has decided to call it a day

The prison warder with the triple chin and red nose muttered something about ‘never a moment's peace’ when Studer dragged him away from his lunch. But Studer was from the Criminal Investigation Department of the cantonal police, only a lowly sergeant, true, but Liechti couldn't simply tell him to push off.

So the warder got up, filled his tumbler with red wine, drained it, picked up his bunch of keys and went with Studer to the cell where Schlumpf, the prisoner the sergeant had delivered scarcely an hour ago, was locked up. Corridors … long dark corridors … the walls were thick. Thun Castle felt as if it had been built to last for ever. The winter cold was still lurking everywhere. It was hard to imagine that outside was a lake was bathed in a warm May day, people strolling in the sun, others on the water in their boats, rocked by the waves, getting a tan.

The cell door opened. Studer paused for a moment on the threshold. The window was high up, with two horizontal and two vertical bars crossing it. The ridge of a roof could be seen, with old black tiles, and above it the brilliant blue of the sky. But there was a man hanging from the lower cross-bar! A leather belt had been tied in a tight knot round it. The dark shape of a body slanted across the whitewashed wall, its feet resting on the bed at a strangely twisted angle. And the buckle on the hanged man's neck shone where the sun caught it from above. ‘Christ Almighty!’ said Studer, shot forward, jumped up onto the bed — the warder was amazed at the nimbleness of a man already middle aged — and grasped the body in his right arm whilst his left hand undid the knot. Studer let out an oath — a broken fingernail — then climbed down and gently laid the lifeless body on the bed.

‘If you bloody lot weren't so far behind the times here,’ said Studer, ‘and at least had wire mesh over your windows, this kind of thing wouldn't happen. There we are. Come on Liechti, get a move on and fetch the doctor.’