Winner of the German Crime Fiction Award
Louise Boni drinks too much. The maverick inspector in Germany's Black Forest police squad is haunted by the mistakes she's made and the people she's lost. While she's dreading the approach of another lonely winter weekend, a call from her supervisor draws her into the most bizarre case of her career. A badly beaten Japanese monk is roaming the snowy Freiburg region with little more than sandals and a begging bowl, and the frightened holy man appears to be fleeing an unseen danger. Now Boni must battle both skeptical police authorities and her personal demons as her investigation reveals a hidden crime ring as well as a spiritual opportunity to transform her life. The first book in the Black Forest Investigation series, Zen and the Art of Murder is "a surprising and genuinely shocking case." — The Sunday Times (U.K.)
"An exciting new voice in crime fiction emerges with Zen and the Art of Murder, the first novel in Oliver Bottini's Black Forest Investigation series. Both baffling and affecting in turn, and always entertaining. It's an excellent beginning to a thrilling new series." — Foreword Review
German author Bottini's uneven first in his Black Forest series introduces German police detective Louise Boni, who's been traumatized by an earlier case and otherwise has a host of personal problems, including alcoholism. When an Asian monk appears outside Freiburg, bruised, battered, and terrified, the xenophobic police decide to monitor him at first, until they realize somebody is chasing him. After one of Boni's colleagues is shot dead and another wounded, she's placed on leave, though she continues to pursue the case, uncovering a connection to a Buddhist monastery just across the French border. Links emerge to a horrifying adoption and child trafficking operation, and Boni becomes a target for the culprits. Even as she grapples with the investigation, her wary colleagues, and her own demons, something is awakened in Boni that provides a surprisingly meditative, spiritual component to her quests. The epilogue offers a measure of hope. Though the choppy style makes for slow going, the action picks up as the pieces of the puzzle start fitting together. American readers will find little that's new.