Out of Reach

Original title: Hors d’atteinte

Author: Couderc, Frédéric

Publication Date:

January 2023



Original language and publisher

French | Les Escales

Territories Handled

Worldwide excl. French


Historical Fiction


  • Prix Orange du Livre 2023 (longlisted)

Out of Reach

Original title: Hors d’atteinte

Author: Couderc, Frédéric


Frédéric Couderc, an author who masters historical narratives with precision and immersion, brings Horst Schumann, a sinister doctor of Mengele’s caliber, out of oblivion. A multi-faceted book, part family investigation, part moving love story. An important novel that gives us a chilling insight into a forgotten criminal.

Nowadays, in Hamburg. Paul, a successful writer, learns of the disappearance of his grandfather, Viktor. Stunned, he discovers that heavy secrets link him to an SS officer who was an accomplice of Josef Mengele in Auschwitz.

In 1940s Berlin, Viktor saw his sister Vera locked up in Sonnenstein Castle. This is the site of the Aktion T4 program, aimed at “ridding” the Third Reich of its “deficient” Aryans.

Behind the grandson, the writer soon emerges. What if his grandfather and this foggy past were to become the subject of his next book?

Paul’s novel tells Viktor’s story, from Hamburg in 1947 to Ghana in the 1960s to the present day. The author discovers Horst Schumann, the Nazi criminal who castrated men and sterilized women in Auschwitz, who remains unpunished and yet wanted by Mossad. Why did his hunt fail? What complicities did he benefit from?

This text denounces, enlightens, and moves by turning a flamboyant novel into a historical investigation, a breathtaking thriller, and a love story.