Today I’m delighted to be sharing my review of “Zen and the Art of Murder” by Oliver Bottini, which is available now.
About the book:
Louise Boni, maverick chief inspector with the Black Forest crime squad, is struggling with her demons. Divorced at forty-two, she is haunted by the shadows of the past.
Dreading yet another a dreary winter weekend alone, she receives a call from the departmental chief which signals the strangest assignment of her career – to trail a Japanese monk wandering through the snowy wasteland to the east of Freiburg, dressed only in sandals and a cowl. She sets off reluctantly, and by the time she catches up with him, she discovers that he is injured, and fearfully fleeing some unknown evil. When her own team comes under fire, the investigation takes on a terrifying dimension, uncovering a hideous ring of child traffickers. The repercussions of their crimes will change the course of her own life.
Oliver Bottini is a fresh and exciting voice in the world of crime fiction in translation; the Rhine borderlands of the Black Forest are a perfect setting for his beautifully crafted mysteries.
*Thank you to the publishers for an early copy in exchange for an honest review*
At the beginning of the book, we are introduced to Chief Inspector Louise Boni. She’s meant to be having a day off, but is called in to help investigate the strange case of a Monk who is wandering around a local town. By the time she arrives, he has left the town, and is wandering in the forest. He’s only wearing sandals and a cowl, and carries a staff and a small bowl. When Louise catches up with him, she finds him badly beaten. They are also unable to speak to one another as he appears to have originated from Japan. He allows her to trail him, but not protect him.
The next day, Louise leaves him with her local colleagues and heads home to get a translator. By the time she returns, he has disappeared.
Who is the mysterious monk, and what is he running from?
I was intrigued when I first heard about this book – the Black Forest holds many happy memories for me, and we all know I love a good crime story! However, I have to admit to having been a little disappointed with the beginning. It was a very slow burner and took a long time to get going.
I also initially did not like the character of Louise Boni. She is an alcoholic, and keeps seeing ghosts of her past. It was a little confusing as to who was real and who was a work of her imagination!
She grew on me as the investigation progressed, and I did like some of her colleagues. I do wish there had been something to grab me earlier though – I nearly gave up on it at one point!
Overall, a 3*.
About the author:
OLIVER BOTTINI was born in 1965. Four of his novels, including ZEN AND THE ART OF MURDER and A SUMMER OF MURDER of the Black Forest Investigations, have been awarded the Deutscher Krimipreis, Germany’s most prestigious award for crime writing. In addition his novels have been awarded the Stuttgarter Krimipreis and the Berliner Krimipreis. He lives in Berlin.
About the translator:
Jamie Bulloch is the translator of Timur Vermes’ Look Who’s Back, Birgit Vanderbeke’s The Mussel Feast, which won him the Schlegel-Tieck Prize, Kingdom of Twilight by Steven Uhly, and novels by F.C. Delius, Jörg Fauser, Martin Suter, Katharina Hagena and Daniel Glattauer.