STARRED REVIEW "Swiss author Schneider’s excellent first mystery and series launch...gripping, plausible debut bodes well for future entries." Publishers Weekly----------
It is the end of October, the city of Basel is grey and wet. It could be December. It is just after midnight when Police Inspector Peter Hunkeler, on his way home and slightly worse for wear, spots old man Hardy sitting on a bench under a street light. He wants to smoke a cigarette with him, but the usually very loquacious Hardy is silent—his throat a gaping wound. Turns out he was first strangled, then his left earlobe slit, his diamond stud stolen. The media and the police come quickly to the same conclusion: Hardy’s murder was the work of a gang of Albanian drug smugglers. But for Hunkeler that seems too obvious. Hardy’s murder has much in common with the case of Barbara Amsler, a prostitute also found killed, with an ear slit and pearl stud missing. He follows his own intuition and the trail leads him deep into an edgy world of bars, bordellos and strip clubs, but also into the corrupt core of some of Basel’s political and industrial elite. More ominously, he will soon discover the consequences of certain events in recent Swiss history that those in power would prefer to keep far from the public eye.
At the start of Swiss author Schneider's excellent first mystery and series launch, Peter Hunkeler, an inspector with the Basel City criminal investigation department, stops to relieve himself on a tree after leaving a bar. He spots an acquaintance, an "old vagabond" known as Hardy "who always had a diamond in his left earlobe," sitting on a nearby bench. When Hunkeler approaches Hardy, who doesn't respond to the inspector's efforts at conversation, Hunkeler discovers Hardy has been strangled and the diamond cut out of his ear. The murder resembles one of Hunkeler's open cases—the strangling, several months earlier, of a prostitute whose ear was slashed to remove a pearl stud. Hunkeler, who takes the deaths personally, finds himself at odds with his bosses and at risk of losing his job when he dissents from the theory that the killings were related to the city's drug-trafficking by Turks and Albanians. Schneider makes his flawed protagonist relatable and the truth behind the murders satisfyingly surprising. This gripping, plausible debut bodes well for future entries.