Monday, 27 July 2015

Entanglement by Zygmunt Miłoszewski

(Polish State Prosecutor Szacki Investigates)
Antonia Lloyd-Jones (Translator)
254 pages
Bitter Lemon Press (Aug. 1 2010)

I regularly try to discover new authors, from different geographical corners... and I regularly fail one objective, namely the geographical corners. I realize that even if I read not known authors or at least never read authors, they quite all come from the same (comfort?) zone: France, USA, Canada, Great Britain and that's all... So I was very proud of me when I chose this book by Zygmunt Miloszewski, a Polish author (although I must admit that it is less his geographical origin that his book cover that prompted me to read it).

One thing is certain, I do not regret at all choosing that cover book! Some will find with pleasure some references to Agatha Christie: a murder behind closed doors, characters interviewed one by one and an unveiling in front of the group, some will feel like being in a giant Clue (because this time the crime does occur in the kitchen!) Others will be delighted by the characters, sometimes shifted, sometimes tortured, but always well written. Speaking characters, we closely follow the prosecutor Teodore Szacki who's doing a lot of thinking about both the ongoing investigations and his personal life.

I enjoyed discovering the Polish judicial system that looks a bit like the French one. A prosecutor conducting an investigation, aided by the police. Teodore will struggle to investigate because he sets foot in a plot to prevent him to delve into the past of the victim. So, certainly, the story mixes many different fields but each has the merit of lifting the veil on different subjects, be it dark and political history of Poland or therapies to the fashion of the day.

I enjoyed the behing the scenes of the judiciary system: here no resolution with great fanfare for each case but offices that are drowning in cases, prosecutors who spend more time filling out paperwork than investigating, investigations botched by lack of resources or disillusionment on the justice rendered.

I found original the newspapers extracts before each chapter which gives an idea of ​​the news of the day. This makes us revisit History from the Polish perspective. We discover as much the temperature of the day than the political shenanigans of the elections in progress. It gives a context to the story and gives us the impression of being part of this country, at this time.

I had a bit of difficulty in reading the sometimes unpronounceable names for non Polish people, so difficult to remember and easy to mix. You initially have to concentrate not to confuse the characters and understand the course of the plot. Another small problem for some people perhaps: this is not a breathless thriller, the investigation takes time. As for me, I found it perfectly served to emphasize the heaviness of the judicial system, the difficulties due to the historical and societal context of Poland in 2005.

The blurb

The morning oafter a gruelling group therapy session, Henry Talek is found dead, a roasting spit stuck in his eye. The case lands on the desk of Warsaw prosecutor Teodor Szacki. World-weary and suffering from bureaucratic exhaustion and marital ennui, Szacki feels that life has passed him by. But things are about to change, as his search for the killer unearths another murder that took place 20 years ago - before the fall of Communism. And why is the Secret Police taking such an intense interest in this particular case?

In a nutshell

A good first polar for this Polish writer that must be followed, because it seems that the second volume of the series is even better! It is a 4/5 for me.

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