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ENTANGLEMENT
by Zygmunt Miloszewski and Antonia Lloyd-Jones, trans
Bitter Lemon Press, May 2010
254 pages
8.99 GBP
ISBN: 1904738443


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

I think Zygmunt Miloszewski's ENTANGLEMENT might very well be a first for me I'm almost certain it's the only Polish crime novel I've ever read. And it's another gem from Bitter Lemon Press, who seem to posses the enviable ability to sniff out classy books from all corners of Europe (and, of late, South America).

Teodor Szacki is a world-weary state prosecutor. He's finding his job and bizarre colleagues a strain, and he's not much enamoured of his marriage either not that his wife Weronika realises that, though. So the attentions of a flirtatious young journalist aren't unwelcome as a way of bringing some sparkle into his grey life.

But then a murder case lands on his desk. Henryk Telak has been found dead in a Warsaw monastery with a roasting spit stuck in one eye. He was one of a small group taking part in a psychotherapy session so surely there's only a limited number of suspects to deal with.

Except that Teodor's enquiries unearth an unsolved murder from 20 years ago, before the fall of Communism. And the secret police seem to be taking an uncommon interest in the investigation. Teodor also has to deal with a cast of eccentrics, including crude detective Kuzniecow, a couple of dotty therapists and his enigmatic female boss.

ENTANGLEMENT is elegant, understated and enlivened by a charming dry wit which never overwhelms the darker side of the mystery or allows the reader to forget Poland's turbulent past. Antonia Lloyd-Jones's translation brings across the air of menace that shadows Teodor's rather picaresque personal and professional journey through modern-day Warsaw.

I did struggle at times to keep some of the characters straight in my mind; the group undergoing therapy are a touch under-drawn, and I was never quite convinced by the anonymous Mr Big lurking in the background. But these quibbles are over-shadowed by the character of Teodor conflicted, immaculate in his smart suits and utterly tenacious.

ENTANGLEMENT is Zygmunt Miloszewski's third novel and there's apparently a sequel on the way. Given the sting in the tail ending to ENTANGLEMENT, I hope it's translated into English with all speed.

Sharon Wheeler is a UK-based journalist, writer and lecturer.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, October 2010

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