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A Grain of Truth (Polish State Prosecutor Szacki Investigates) Paperback – January 8, 2013
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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Polish mystery writer Miloszewski’s first novel, Entanglement (2010), earned the High Calibre Award and was made into a movie. This second in the series finds state prosecutor Teodor Szacki tackling anti-Semitism in Poland. Szacki has left Warsaw after ending his marriage and settled in Sandomierz, a picturesque town with beautiful churches and museums. As an outsider, he is not welcomed by the residents. When a woman is found dead with her body completely drained of blood, Szacki investigates, despite the lack of cooperation from the local police. The killing looks like ritual slaughter, and it triggers anti-Semitic paranoia in the close-knit community. Szacki must face the painful history of Polish-Jewish relations and the aftermath of an event that occurred 60 years earlier. Miloszewski’s compelling mystery offers a revealing glimpse of life in modern Poland, a country still dealing with its complicated past. --Barbara Bibel
PRAISE FOR ENTANGLEMENT (978-1904738-442) "Miloszewski takes an engaging look at modern Polish society in this stellar first in a new series starring Warsaw prosecutor Teodor Szacki. Readers will want to see more of the complex, sympathetic Szacki." Publishers Weekly "ENTANGLEMENT has everything I want from a thriller. It opens with a murder and quickly develops into a fast-moving and tightly plotted whodunit with a host of colourful characters and vivid descriptions of contemporary Cracow. But it's the unsatisfactory personal life and emotional turmoil of its hero, State Prosecutor Teodor Szacki that steal centre stage." Oxford Times
Top customer reviews
Former Warsaw prosecutor Teodor Szacki makes a fresh start of it in the provincial town of Sandomierz after his marital break up. He's soon investigating a series of grizzly murders in which the blood of the victims was drained, prompting a media feeding frenzy. Is this the crime of an anti-Semite aping the "blood libel" myth in which Polish Jews supposedly kidnapped Catholic children and drained their blood to make matzos or are these serial murders the work of a vengeful Jew? Several clues are left behind leading Szacki to the supposed killer. Perhaps.
Miloszewski has written an absorbing and entertaining tale. Prosecutor Teodor Szacki starts out as a bitter, jaded character the reader will end up rooting for. There are many references to historic and contemporary Poland in this novel so some knowledge of the country would be helpful but is not essential. The author does a fine job of weaving the hot-button topic of Polish-Jewish relations into this murder mystery. Despite there being very few Jews in contemporary Poland, anti-Semitism is still quite popular among the right-wing Catholic nationalists. Sandomierz was notorious for a 1710-1713 blood libel pogrom and for the painting still hanging at Sandomierz Cathedral depicting Jews slaughtering Catholic infants for their blood. Blood libel and "host" desecration myths were quite popular throughout Poland for centuries. For readers who may be interested in examining modern Polish Catholic anti-Semitism see "Poland's Threatening Other: The Image of the Jew from 1880 to the Present" by Joanna Beata Michlic.
I won't reveal the novel's ending however I did find the murderer's identity to be a bit of a stretch. What are the realistic chances of forensic medical examiners making such a careless error in such a high profile case? Delete one star for implausibility.
A Polish film adaptation of "A Grain of Truth" is currently in production. The director is Borys Lankosz whose 2009 film, Rewers (Reverse), met with wide acclaim.
In all of these, the detective hero must frequently skirt the authorities who have no qualms about pinning the crime on an otherwise innocent townsperson if it helped advance their political careers. In addition to his political aplomb, the detective hero is invariably good in a fist fight, has several women hanging off him, is a gourmet chef, and is mildly depressed. There are long digressions on food and local delicacies.
"A Grain of Truth," set in modern Poland, is more of the same. Its detective munches, not fish or risotto, but grilled meats and profiteroles, when he is now screwing one of several available women, or gasping at the hideousness of the murder scene. This novel too explores the ethnic hatreds which never seem to die. It is vivid enough to make you want to visit southern Poland, to look at history and ask yourself what went on there.