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The Dance of Death

The Dance of Death

Oliver Bottini
ARRSE Rating
2.5 Mushroom Heads
This is the third in a series of Black Forest Investigations novels and I must admit having not read the previous two I found this book a bit of a struggle, why? The characters for one, I found it hard to actually get to know the main characters and what has gone on before this particular crime reared it’s ugly head. Is that the authors fault that I haven’t read the other two books? Well I would say yes.. I have read many a novel which is in a series of books and have managed to get engrossed within the first few chapters, even pages. The author is German and the story is set in Germany, the book itself is translated from German to English.

So what’s this about? Well it starts off rather well with a chilling opening, nothing to sinister but you can imagine what the householder Paul Niemann was going through, is there someone in his house? You are with him as he searches, the man a tramp outside staring through the window on a nasty cold grey wet night, but what has he actually done?

Enter the detective who I assume is a character who has starred in the other two previous novels, Louise Boni. She interviews the family at their home, she calls in the scenes of crime tech guys who go through the house with a fine tooth comb and find that the suspect has indeed been in the house and upstairs as well but other than that has done nothing except he made a veiled threat. Seven days. He will be back in 7 days.

A good, no a very good start but unfortunately after this it all starts to get bogged down, characters who don’t really mean or add much and a story that gets far too complicated with a background of the old East West Germany coming together and how difficult for every one that proved to be.

A good fast paced story is what makes for a good bit of entertainment, after all we read books to be temporarily taken out of our day to day lives, to be engaged and submersed into the lives of the characters you are reading about and to get thoroughly engrossed with what is going on, call it escapism call it what you want but this book just made it too hard at least for myself to do that which is a shame because as I said it got off to a good start.

Perhaps this story belongs in Germany, saying that I have recently read two novels set in Germany but they were by a British author. Was something lost in translation, was the geography and politics a bit too much? Probably, would it have helped if I had read the opening two books?
I think the honest answer to that is no.

I’m going to give this 2.5 Mushroom Heads because even though I personally didn’t like it others might, especially if you can track down the first two novels. I would not spend money on this without reading the first and maybe even the second book, saying that you might not bother once you’ve read the first, then again you might, now there’s a bit of a mystery.

The first novel is titled Zen and the art of Murder, the second A Summer of Murder.

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Gout Man
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