Old Job Grong runs a down-at-heel hotel on the edge of the creepily named ‘Black Maria’ lake in the resort of Hiltroff, Austria. Vinzent Oleander has been a regular patron, especially of the bar, for the past three years. But when he falls into the lake and is saved from drowning by Grong, he reveals a sinister secret: the real reason for his stay, according to himself, is that he is searching for his kidnapped child, who he claims was snatched from him during a traffic accident in Milan.
But this is only the opening of an complex plot, which continues with a Loch Ness Monster type creature emerging from the lake in full view of the local schoolchildren and the remains of a young woman being fished out of the water’s depths. It takes the caustic Criminal Inspector Lukastic to sort all this out, and to discover along the way that the traffic accident was not an accident at all, but the assassination of a taxi driver by a murderous Italian gang. Stir well, throw in a spot of cultic worship and Lukastik’s tortured love-life, and you have a mixture which, however improbable it may sound, works like – well, magic.
A chance to discover the particular brand of black humour that has garnered Steinfest such a solid following among crime fans.