An unconventional German police inspector tackles the baffling case of the Japanese monk who’s been wandering the Black Forest beaten and disoriented.
Policeman Johann Hollerer finds the seriously wounded monk collapsed on the steps of the Catholic church in Liebau. The scene is even more puzzling because it’s the middle of winter, and the ground’s covered in snow. Hollerer’s call to Inspector Bermann of the Serious Crime Squad leads to the dispatch of Louise Bonì, a brilliant detective who’s fighting personal demons and a dark past. A brief, awkward conversation between Bonì and the monk confirms that he’s Japanese. The language barrier slows progress on the case to a crawl, and Bottini uses this interregnum to develop the relationship between Louise and Bermann, her bullying boss; Louise's struggles with alcohol; and her camaraderie with both Hollerer and unworldly junior detective Niksch. They trade theories and search for a monastery in the area, but the case takes a darker turn with the discovery of a corpse in the forest and a second wounded victim. Fueled by an obsession to solve this crime, Louise uncovers a bizarre international crime ring involving children. But the investigation also takes a brutal personal toll, nearly destroying her. By the end, you may think you’ve seen it all, but you haven’t: A bonus short story follows, further illuminating Louise’s past.
The first of Bottini’s six Black Forest procedurals offers a compelling modern heroine and a labyrinthine plot packed with shady characters.