The title may be cheekily borrowed from Strindberg, but The Dance of Death is (as usual with Bottini) a wholly original piece of work. The author’s celebrated series of Black Forest investigations (of which this is the third) is one of the most distinctive and original crime-fiction ventures in many a moon, and this latest entry consolidates Bottini’s achievement, reminding us why he has been a multiple winner of the principal key German crime fiction award, the Deutscher Krimi Preis.
Freiburg detective Louise Boni and her associates are mystified by an unprecedented home invasion. An armed man has tried to force his way into the house of Paul Niemann’s family, telling them (in biblical language) that they must vacate their house within a week or there will be serious consequences. As Boni attempts to protect the family and track down the enigmatic (and traumatised) home invader, she uncovers a dark trail involving German migration to the Balkans and its bloody consequences.
Long-time readers of crime fiction in translation will be pleased to hear that Jamie Bulloch is in charge of rendering the text into English here, reminding us that he is one of the most idiomatic and characterful practitioners of this specialised art. But the real pleasure with The Dance of Death is the artfully structured narrative that Bottini presents; he is always able to surprise the reader, even those who feel that there is nothing in the crime-fiction genre that they have not read before.
Reviewed by Barry Forshaw
THE DANCE OF DEATH
Written by Oliver Bottini
Translated from the German by Jamie Bulloch
Published by Maclehose Press (2019)
Barry Forshaw’s books include Crime Fiction: A Reader’s Guide, the Keating Award-winning Brit Noir and Nordic Noir. Other work: Death in a Cold Climate, Sex and Film and the British Crime Writing encyclopedia (also a Keating Award winner). He edits Crime Time.
Read Barry Forshaw’s #RivetingReview of KILL THE ANGEL by Sandrone Dazieri