Thursday, January 14, 2016

Review of Entanglement by Zygmunt Miloszewski (Bitter Lemon Press, 2010; Polish 2007)

Four patients and their psychotherapist gather in a former church in Warsaw for a weekend of family constellation therapy.  The morning after the first night, Henry Talek is found dead having had a skewer jammed through his eye into his brain.  State prosecutor Teo Szachi is given the task of investigating the case, quickly surmising that one of the attendees is the murderer rather than it being committed by a disturbed burglar or suicide.  The problem is that there is no obvious suspect or motive.  Laboriously he sets about his investigation trying to get a sense of the victim, his family, and the other attendees of the therapy.  In the meantime, he struggles with his sense that he’s trapped in a low-paying, high-stress, thankless job and rapidly souring marriage, dallying with starting an affair.  As he slowly makes progress, it starts to become clear that there is more at stake than solving the death of Talek and there is more threatening his family than a fling with a journalist.

This book has been on my to-be-read pile for quite some time and I've made a start on it three or four times, but never made it past the first twenty pages or so.  The story and the lead character just never got me hooked enough to continue.  This time round I pushed through and by a third of the way in I was intrigued enough to finish the book.  That said, I never warmed to the lead character, Teo Szachi, a misogynist state prosecutor who seems to be having his mid-life crisis at thirty five.  I also didn’t buy how he stumbled on the background story, nor the intricate way the case was tied together, the use of family constellation therapy, or the denouement.  It all seemed so improbable. The background story was however interesting as was the procedural elements relating to workings of state prosecutor’s office, the story did gain pace and tension, and Szachi’s boss and police colleague enlivened things.  Overall, an improbable police procedural that has some nice touches.


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