A Polish prosecutor’s ill-advised decision to move from Warsaw to the provinces cuts down on his case load but not on the angst his first big opportunity brings
Barbara "Basia" Sobieraj thinks the case never should have gone to Teodor Szacki in the first place. After all, he’s an outsider, a very recent arrival to Sandomierz from Warsaw (Entanglement, 2010), whereas she’s known the Budniks for years. When Elzbieta Budnik’s naked corpse is found outside the old synagogue that now serves as the town archive, her throat savagely slashed, Basia feels a much closer attachment to both the victim and her husband, Grzegorz, than Szacki ever could. But that’s just the problem, her maternal boss Maria Miszczyk tells her: The mystery of who killed an English teacher of whom no one speaks a word of ill needs an objective eye. For better or worse, though, Szacki is hardly objective. Having rashly decided to abandon his wife and daughter in Warsaw so that he can take up a new life in this charming backwater, he’s thrown himself into a series a meaningless affairs and a depression so deep that he welcomes the Budnik murder. Slowly but inevitably, complications darken his view. Wealthy businessman Jerzy Szyller disappears shortly after he confesses his involvement with the victim. Grzegorz Budnik, the only plausible suspect, instead follows his wife in death. And everything about both murders, carried out in a way ghoulishly appropriate for the Jewish slaughter of kosher animals, seems to link them to evils with much deeper roots—evils that pose special obstacles to an outsider like Szacki.
Leisurely, ruminative and tangled—more successful as a portrait of the complex, self-hating, yet oddly likable detective than of the crimes he’s called to investigate.