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Wednesday, 18 July 2018

‘Zen and the Art of Murder’ by Oliver Bottini

Published by MacLehose Press,
11 January 2018.
ISBN 978 0 85705 735 8
Translated by Jamie Bulloch

Louise Boni is a Chief Inspector in the Black Forest crime squad.  But, as is the case with many female police characters in current crime fiction, she is struggling with personal problems:  the ghosts of past cases, a divorce, her parents, and alcohol to list a few.  The action starts on a snowy Saturday in Liebau when Johann Hollerer, one of Boni’s colleagues, looks out at the High Street and watches a Japanese monk walk towards the Church.  His presence is causing a mild sensation and Hollerer realises that he must do something for the monk’s own protection.  Louise gets called in and sets off to find the monk …. She catches up with him, but this is not the end of the trail, which crosses European borders and, ultimately, leads to death and discovery and, maybe, to help for Louise.  This is a sad and serious story, its measured and contemplative moments perhaps reflecting the Buddhist element.

Oliver Bottini is a well-known krimi (crime fiction) author in Germany and this is a translation from the original German.  The impression is that the translator, Jamie Bulloch, has grasped the essence of the novel, its nuances and pace.  Four of the author’s novels, including this one, have been awarded the Deutscher Krimipreis, Germany's most prestigious award for crime writing and this book is on the long list for the CWA International Dagger (which is for crime novels not originally written in English, but translated into English for publication).
Reviewer: Jo Hesslewood
Other books (English translations) by this author:  A Summer of Murder

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.

Jo Hesslewood.  Crime fiction has been my favourite reading material since as a teenager I first spotted Agatha Christie on the library bookshelves.  For twenty-five years the commute to and from London provided plenty of reading time.  I am fortunate to live in Cambridge, where my local crime fiction book club, Crimecrackers, meets at Heffers Bookshop .  I enjoy attending crime fiction events and currently organise events for the Margery Allingham Society.

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