Another dark horse for me this year, The Madonna on the Moon by Rolf Bauerdick is a book I’m quite honestly confounded by. Theirs is nothing really overly bad and good, and my feelings of love or hate are rather neutral. I liked some aspects of this novel and I didn’t like others. But what sets this apart is that I really do not know what the main goal of this book was. The author has a great interest in gypsies, but aside from two of the main characters being of that culture, it really doesn’t dwell on those facts very much. It is a murder mystery that doesn’t have a clear-cut conclusion in the form of “why” (although it does provide and extensive description of “how”). And it’s a book of religious doubt, but the things that come into doubt came off as rather preposterous. Some may like this kind of thing from a book, but within the kind of narrative framework this novel provides, I prefer answers. The story starts in the year 1957 in a small German village (so small, it only has one TV), and one of its inhabitants, Pavel, gets himself embroiled in a murder mystery after his sad-sack drunk teacher, Angela, makes a strange proclamation in the middle of class, and a beloved priest is brutally murdered and a religious relic is stolen. Along with his friend Buba, and her uncle, Dmitri, he investigates the cause, which leads him down a dark path that forces him to rethink his faith, and his place in small-town life. This book is full of musings, but it never really adds up to anything concrete, and the message remains unclear. Like any book, there are parts that I enjoyed thoroughly, like what when we find out why Angela was as miserable as she was after Pavel finds a crude picture, as well as Dimitru’s rather unique views on modern faith, and what might actually be on the moon are amusing but really go nowhere. It is worth a read if you find the subject matter interesting, just don’t look too deep, you might find nothing.