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Wednesday 3 July 2024

‘The White Circle’ by Oliver Bottini.

Translated by Jamie Bulloch. 
Published by Quercus,
6 June 2024.
ISBN:  978-1-52940-923-9 (HB)

In this, the sixth and last of Oliver Bottini’s Black Forest Investigations series, Louise Boni an independently minded, proactive Chief Inspector with Freiburg’s criminal police, has reached a state of emotional and psychological exhaustion. On the domestic front she rarely communicates with her family, on the emotional front she and her lover Ben can’t agree on what country to live in, and at work she is missing and mourning her old boss, Rolf Bermann.

Late one night, a young colleague, Kilian, who is working undercover with the regional Criminal Investigation Bureau, arrives at Louise’s flat with disturbing news: someone in Freiburg has just taken delivery of two pistols with silencers.  The inference is clear. Somebody is going to be shot. Unfortunately, Kilian has no idea who is the intended victim or when and why they are going to be shot. Louise must answer these questions, but time and resources are short. Germany is hosting the World Cup: every spare policeman is on security duties.

Louise’s new boss, Lief Enders, offers to help, but he is constantly distracted by problems with an alcoholic wife who doesn’t want to move to Freiburg. Louise has sympathy for the couple because of her own history with alcohol. Her other helpers are Natalie, who deals with the IT side of things, and colleagues in patrol cars who help when they are available. There is some hindrance from other agencies in the force who are either corrupt or guarding their empires.

Louise identifies the problem as originating from a right wing, neo-nazi type organisation. Unfortunately, its members act in a carefully constructed network - nobody knows whom they are dealing with so they can’t incriminate others or help the police with enquiries even supposing that they wanted to. The potential victim’s attitude to their impending fate doesn’t make her job any easier either. After selflessly putting herself in danger fighting for justice and peace and coping with seeing a colleague killed in front of her, we leave a drained Louise Boni heading for some well-earned rest and recuperation. 

Masterly written with both insight and foresight, and beautifully translated from the German by Jamie Bulloch, The White Circle highlights the re-emergence of disturbing racist tendencies in Europe.  At the same time, Bottini take us on a complicated, investigative journey and portrays the personal lives of a wide variety of characters with inherent sensitivity.  Will Louise and Enders return in another series?   Who knows? 
Reviewer: Angela Crowther
Other books by this author:  Zen and the Art of Murder, A Summer of Murder, The Dance of Death, and Night Hunters, The Invisible Dead..

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.

Angela Crowther is a retired scientist.  She has published many scientific papers but, as yet, no crime fiction.  In her spare time Angela belongs to a Handbell Ringing group, goes country dancing and enjoys listening to music, particularly the operas of Verdi and Wagner.

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