Hunkeler, the grouchy, elderly detective inspector from the Basel Criminal Investigation Department, whose seventh appearance before the public this is, is on sick leave receiving treatment for his bad back. He waits impatiently for his turn at the spa’s Jacuzzi jet when suddenly there is uproar. Two chattering women stop talking and start screaming for help, a body in the main pool comes into view, gushing blood, various unidentified figures streak past and disappear. Then a distraught young man with a knife strapped to his leg rushes forward. He is the boyfriend of the victim, a Basel art collector and gallery owner, and he is immediately arrested. But did he do it?
It really is time that the endearing Hunkeler, a wise, independentminded and sometimes accident-prone loner, got a showing in Britain. After all, just think Andrea Camillieri, for instance. The sex here is mixed – the detective’s assistant, as well as the young suspect in the case, is gay. The setting is the interesting triangle of territory embracing Alsace, the Black Forest, and of course Basel itself and the cantons surrounding it. And then there are the frequent samplings of those delicious Alsacian wines. Irresistible.
All recommendations from Autumn 2008