Book review: Entanglement
By Zygmunt Miloszewski
Bitter Lemon Press $ 14.95
On this interesting whodunit set in present-time Warsaw, a thirty year-old prosecutor named Teodor Szacki finds himself embroiled in a murder investigation with strange ramifications: after a grueling therapy session, one of the patients is found dead with a skewer stuck into his eye. There are no witnesses except for those who participated in the session – the same people who happened to have found the body in an adjacent room.
Szacki is presented as a depressing fellow. Prematurely white haired, he feels as if he has missed great opportunities in life. As the investigation progresses, he wonders if he shouldn’t have gone into a lucrative private practice instead of lingering in a state job that apparently does not pay him enough to even have an occasional meal in a restaurant without compromising his budget – never mind that his wife is also a lawyer who also happens to work for the state.
As the investigation progresses, Szacki finds that there is more to the story than a simple murder – the victim seems to have been associated with shady figures of the communist regime that ruled the country until 1989, and those connections – though politically powerless – still carry some weight. However, Miłoszewski keeps you guessing to the very Agatha Christie-ish ending in which everything comes together.
The author has great sense of humor, and as the story progresses, he looks sarcastically at life in the Polish capital today. As he finds himself without simple answers during the course of the investigation, he longs for what he calls a ‘typical’ Polish murder – three guys pass out after drinking too much and one turns up dead while the other two have no idea what went down.
The novel is rich with the scenery of Warsaw’s city center. Reading it, I recognized many places that I actually saw during my short visit almost a year ago. However, having knowledge of Warsaw is not a requirement for this great mystery novel, which can be a great summer read.
Incidentally, “Entanglement” has been adapted – with considerable changes, from what I could see from the trailer – by director Jacek Bromski, who also made one of my favorite Polish feature films, 1997’s Love Stories. The film was released in Poland (starring Marek Bukowski as Szacki) a few weeks ago – I hope it at least makes it here on DVD soon … you can see the trailer (in Polish) here