This is an interesting example of a novel subverting all the guidelines of a crime-fiction story.
Kirst creates the convincing frame of Wahlheim (literally and not casually "home of the election" if my poor German is not wrong) an ideal small town of post WWII Germany, being pretty much untouched by the conflict.
No destructions, no starvation there: just a placid daily life where nothing special happens leading the local reporter to invent most of the news. Wahlheim is an island with people meeting each other at the local inn either for having a beer, making business or talking about politics while being seduced by the manager.
The inhabitants of Wahlheim use to express the truth or at least they express what and who they like or dislike without any double meaning behind. They are all far from sophistication, unaware of diversity, tied to their tiny cosy clod.
We know these people by family name rather than first name, as in the episodes of the old Tv serie "Oberinspektor Derrick". Even old time friends call each other by surname and to me this sounds very German.
When Muntsch comes back to town after having spent three years in prison for beating the town's only tycoon, Wahlheim people can smell how their tranquillity is going to cease. Their prejudices toward Muntsch are mostly wrong, but as a matter of fact Wallheim is going to have some actual news very soon.
What I appreciated more in this novel is the ability of Kirst in picturing the backstage of local politic debates and decisions in some unimportant corner of Germany in the 1950s. There were former Nazi supporters are trying to cover their frustrated nostalgia by being enthusiastic patriots while the Church is still losing its appeal and the priest is no opinion leader at all.
In all this scenario it's easy to glorify a man calling him "a great poet" in order to reach a political goal or disguising a suicide as a wicked murder.
Of course Hans Hellmut Kirst is not Thomas Mann neither Heinrich Boell, nevertheless this nice story would deserve to be performed on a stage.