Kein Schnaps für Tamara

The original story was published in 1966 in Germany. It was written as a murder mystery for native German speakers. At some point it was simplified and some of the unnecessary details removed. Occasionally words were changed to more commonly used vocabulary that students of German should know or should learn.

There are a few details that I (Frau Baird) wished were retained in the simplified version. Below is a synopsis of those details. The original book is out of print but you can still find copies of it at German book sellers such as AbeBooks

Chapter 1

Hans Obuch is in advertising. He sells ads.

Chapter 2

The contents of the dead woman's purse included a gilded lipstick holder (indicating that she was had a decent income) and French cigarettes (implying she was a foreigner or well traveled).

Obuch remembers seeing her face in a photo but he doesn't recall where or when.

Obuch asks Roth how he knew about the dead woman so quickly. Roth explains that Burwinkel calls him whenever a story develops.

Roth travels around the area on a moped.

Chapter 3

Obuch came back to Endwarden because he didn't believe in suicide. He knows the photo he saw of her face had no connection to do with Endwarden, but he can't remember any of the details.

He wonders if there was an ID in the purse.

When he sees Müller walking out of the Schnaps factory, Obuch asks the waiter if Müller has friends or relatives at the factory. The waiter answered no but took a step back as if Obuch were crazy.

When he enters the paint store, he asks the sales clerk if the painting in the window is old. The woman admits that it is not yet dry.

Chapter 4

Mowgil was named after the character in Kipling's Jungle Book.

At the end of the chapter Obuch asks Fabrizius not to mention Obuch's name when Fabrizius inquires whether Obuch's story about the dead woman is true.

The name of the bar in the original book is the Anker (anchor), not Seehund.

Chapter 5

Detective Müller was in charge of the of the celebration at the hotel. It was actually a "Glee Club" (singing group) activity that was popular in 1950's and '60's and not Bricks' victory party.

Occasionally Obuch refers to Cora Stein as a peacock butterfly known as a Pfauenauge in German.

Cora gives Obuch more details about Udo Bricks. She explains that he looks normal but isn't. He hangs on to his mother like a 4 year old. She loves him excessively or else she would have put him in a home. He is a good swimmer and a good gymnast but mentally he can't add two plus two. Six months ago Udo got his driver's license. The police went along with it because Bricks has friends in the department.

Chapter 6

After Obuch discovers the painting is missing, policeman Schattschneider arrives to deliver the bad news to Karlchen. He was suspicious of Obuch's presence.

Chapter 7

Burwinkel goes into more detail about Tamara on the train. No one knows her. She can't be identified. No one knows when she got on the train. She has no ticket, no papers, no ID.

Obuch gives many glib answers and Burwinkel tells him that he annoys most people.

Burwinkel admits that Müller is a cop who follows all the protocols and goes by the book. Müller has grounds to arrest Obuch on suspicion of murder but protocol requires that he tell his supervisor, Burwinkel, before the arrest.

Chapter 8

On his way to pick up Cora Stein, Obuch notices that the painting with Tamara's purse is no longer in the paint shop window.

Böksgard is located 12 miles northwest of Endwarden and lies directly on the sea.

There were several toasts. After toasting to love they talk about love and admit it's illogical. Bricks claims that some love is just crazy cruelty.

Obuch and Bricks talk for half an hour before Bricks invites Obuch to his house for coffee. He invited him because of the comments Obuch said about love.

Obuch didn't get drafted until 1943. He served a bitter year in Russia and then a few weeks in Hungary where he learned about the "Final Solution." He was quickly sent to the African front.

Tamara's store had two small rooms in the back with one upstairs room that is only accessible by a ladder. This is where Hanno hid. He didn't realize at first how dangerous it was for him to be hiding there. If the Germans found Hanno, Tamara would have been hanged. That probably would have happened if the French, English or Arabs found him.

Three years after he returned to Germany he went back to Tunis. He discovered that Tamara's father returned a few weeks after she gave birth to a baby boy. The reason Tamara and her father moved was because the area residents became hostile toward her because of her blond haired baby.

Wilhelm didn't know Hanno went back to Tunis. He thought his son was vacationing in Italy. When he discovered the truth there was quite a scene and Wilhelm threatened to disown him and make Udo his successor.

Bricks thanks Obuch because it helps him to put his tragic story into words. There is no one in his social circle or the area whom he could talk to.

On the way out Obuch mentions to Bricks that he's heard of a painter in Endwarden who does good portraits and landscapes. His name is Fabian or something. Bricks corrects him saying the painter is Fabrizius and that he is a good painter but not a good listener, otherwise Bricks would have told him his story.

Chapter 9

Obuch spends a little bit of time talking to Karlchen at the Stein's.

Before stopping at Heidler's, Obuch went to the paint store to ask if the painting with Tamara's purse was still available. The sales clerk said that Fabrizius called her up yesterday to tell her he had a buyer. She was to give it to the boy he would send. She didn't know the boy.

Chapter 10

There is a fence around the Bricks' house. Obuch jumps it to get close to the house.


Chapter 11

When Obuch wakes up the first time he really does see 3 men: Schattschneider (the local policeman), Burwinkel and someone else.

He wakes up a 2nd time and Karlchen tells him he needs to stay in bed.

The third time he wakes up Burwinkel is sitting on his bed as in the Easy Reader edition.

At the very end one reason Obuch gives for not wanting his boss in Hamburg to know the truth is because he doesn't want to be called Sherlock Holmes for the next 3 years.

The reason Wilhelm wasn't dead in the end was because a janitor and 2 other men pulled Udo off of him.

English Version of the Book

In 1976 this book was published by St. Martin's Press in the United States under the title Sleeping Girls Don't Lie: A Mystery. The introduction by Hansjörg Martin reads:

This story takes place in North Germany during 1951.
This was a time when Germany had everything again: butter, coffee, cigarettes, good-time bars, national pride, and small-time patriots. Only we Germans weren't quite used to all these things yet.
But this doesn't mean the story could only have happened then. With a few minor revisions it could happen today, tomorrow, or thirty years from now.
Hansjörg Martin
Wedel, Holstein
West Germany
Autumn, 1965

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