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If there is anything that should never happen at a Buddhist Monastery, it’s murder. Author Nancy O’Hara takes the reader of ‘One Hand Killing’ behind the shoji screens of a Zen Buddhist Monastery in the Catskill Mountains, and finds that even a world dedicated to promoting non-violence and rigorous self-discipline is not immune to the common commotions of murder, as monks and nuns become the target of an increasingly baffling homicidal rampage.
Even the mildest of monks who have withdrawn from the world to pursue a life of meditation and sangha life become suspects as Alex Sullivan, an NYPD cop and novice Zen student, tries to reconcile her hard-boiled police persona with her reverence for the practice and people of the Monastery, in order to catch a killer. That she herself may also be in the crosshairs of the murderer makes solving the multiplying cases while protecting Setsu Roshi, the Zen Master who runs the Monastery, exceedingly tricky.
In the tradition of the best murder mysteries, ‘One Hand Killing’ offers the reader entree into a new experience: the recondite world of a Zen Monastery, in which people can – and in fact are required – to reinvent themselves, with new names, new lifestyles, and vows that would seem to preclude sex, drugs, and violence. But an old police hand like Alex knows that some things just don’t change.