Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pierce’s Picks: “Death in Breslau”

A weekly alert for followers of crime, mystery, and thriller fiction.

Death in Breslau, by Marek Krajewski (Melville International Crime):
It’s 1933 in the city of Breslau, then under Nazi control (but now part of Poland). Criminal Counsellor Eberhard Mock is called away--much to his chagrin--from his regular chess assignation at a high-end brothel to investigate a railroad yard crime scene. Seventeen-year-old Marietta von der Malten has been found half naked and fully murdered in a train carriage, her intestines strung out like garlands beside her body and a “small, vigorous scorpion” inspecting her abdominal cavity. Her governess, the 40-something Mlle. Francoise Debroux, lies strangled nearby, while “two lines of strange signs”--writing of a peculiar sort?--decorate the wall in blood. Mock, a Freemason who needs to tread carefully in corrupt, spy-ridden Breslau--strikes a deal with the Gestapo to blame these atrocities on an aged Jew, Isidor Friedländer, who is known to have traded in scorpions. But after evidence turns up to prove that Friedländer wasn’t guilty, Mock finds himself helping a troubled young policeman from Berlin who’s been sent to identify the real killer. Their path will soon lead them into Breslau’s darkest corners and to the conclusion that these slayings have centuries-old roots. Author Krajewski is a Polish linguist, whose flawed and abundantly eccentric protagonist, Mock, has already been featured in four English-translated novels, the first of which is Death in Breslau. Fans of Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther books and Jonathan Rabb’s Detective Inspector Nikolai Hoffner trilogy will want to pick this one up, too.

READ MORE:An Interview with Marek Krajewski” and “More from the Marek Krajewski Interview,” by Uriah Robinson (Crime Scraps Review).

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