cover image I Am Your Judge

I Am Your Judge

Nele Neuhaus, trans. from the German by Steven T. Murray. Minotaur, $26.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-250-07168-2

German author Neuhaus combines an intense hunt for a serial killer with characters that readers will care about in her superior fourth mystery to be published in the U.S. featuring German detectives Pia Kirchhoff and Oliver von Bodenstein, of the Hofheim criminal police (after 2014’s Bad Wolf). Pia’s plans for a getaway with her new husband are thwarted when a murderer shoots elderly Ingeborg Rohleder with a high-powered rifle while the woman is walking her dog. Later, the sniper shoots 64-year-old Margarethe Rudolf in her kitchen in front of her granddaughter. The working theory that these are random shootings comes under question when the killer sends an obituary for the first victim to the police. Signed “the Judge,” the note states that Ingeborg “had to die” because her daughter denied someone assistance and was thus an “accessory to negligent manslaughter.” Sections told from the killer’s vantage point ratchet up the suspense as he narrows in on his next target. Neuhaus does a superb job of portraying the search for a link between the dead women, and her willingness to let her characters make mistakes gives the plot even more plausibility. (Jan.)