Brenner and God is the first of Wolf Haas's Detective Simon Brenner series to be translated from German to English, though it is the seventh book in the series. It seems like an odd place to begin, but I doubt any one would guess.
It was the premise that piqued my interest, introducing Brenner, once a police detective, now a personal chauffeur for a two year old girl, Helena. When Helena goes missing from the limousine while Brenner sips espresso in the service station, it is assumed that she has been kidnapped. The police suspect Brenner is involved, but her parents, a doctor who provides abortions and a construction and property developer giant, have plenty of enemies. When there is no ransom demand, or a body, Brenner decides to investigate the child's disappearance only to find himself mired in a cesspit of lies, betrayal and murder.
Told in the first person by an omniscient narrator who is never introduced, intermittently addresses the reader directly as well as interjecting opinion, information and judgement, Brenner and God has one of the most unusual styles of narration I have encountered. The effect is initially bewildering and I am not sure I ever quite got used to the quirky voice, even though I admired the author's unique approach.
Brenner is a cynic with an emerging pill habit and a history of ignoring authority. Despite being warned off becoming involved in the investigation he refuses to step back from the case, driven not only by his sense of guilt but also his belief in doing the right thing. Under suspicion is an anti abortionist campaigner and a cabal of business heavyweights, but even as bodies begin to fall, Brenner doesn't get any closer to finding Helena and finds himself, literally in the sh*t.
I did enjoy Brenner and God, it's entertaining and clever with an appealing protagonist. This is a book for fans of noir detective fiction looking for something unusual and edgy.