21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Marek Krajewski - The End of the World in Breslau,
This review is from: End of the World in Breslau (Hardcover)
Criminal Councillor Eberhard Mock has two puzzling deaths on his hands: the first a man bound and gagged and bricked-up behind a wall, left to die, the second a man who's been quartered and his fingers severed. Apart from their barbarity, nothing links the cases, apart from that at each scene a page from a calendar is left, with the date of death marked in blood. However, that's not all he has on his hands: Mock's wife is giving him trouble. Though it's mostly his own fault. And as Mock continues to disappoint poor Sophie, she moves further away from him and becomes closer to her friend Elizabeth, a woman who has a very strange relationship with a local Baron, and it's a relationship that Sophie is gradually drawn into, potentially with disastrous consequences. And as the life of Breslau in the mid 20's revolves onwards to disaster, Mock, while desperately pursuing his wayward wife, finds himself stumbling across a cult that's preaching the imminent end of the world, in Breslau.
It took me a while to get used to the style of the first book in the series, but when I did I really enjoyed it. Having tried it previously, it was a lot easier to get into in this book, which I was pleased with because I've sensed from the start that if the effort can made to get into these eccentrically written books, then there would definitely be something special to be had. And there is.
One of the things I appreciate most about translated fiction is how different it is, and there's almost no better example of that than this series. This is a noir novel of the American school, but set in an early 20th century Polish city, with a police investigator who knows much better the dark side of life than the light, who has a shaky moral compass, enjoys brothels and gambling, and takes care to know the dark secrets of everyone around him, so he can essentially do exactly as he likes. Like a kind of shadier, more vice-ridden, slightly less scrupulous version of Aurelio Zen. It's not a remotely piercing statement to say that Eberhard Mock is the best part of this series. Close second is the atmosphere of Breslau, dark and dirty and dangerous, full of poverty.
Krajewski's dark plotting is another matter. It can be rambling, moves in stops and starts, and the main plot can have a disconcerting habit of being overtaken by other substories. However, it works. It's dark, and weird, and eccentric, and somehow it seems to mirror real life. The plotting seems to, like Mock, take care of itself: it goes where it wants, does what it wants, and eventually ends up in the right place!
I'm increasingly looking forward to the coming entries in this eccentric, original series. So far this year (even though it's early-on!), we've had some great entries from the stable of foreign crime-writers, Jo Nesbo and Karin Alvtegen in particular. But so far, this wry, dark piece of fiction is my favourite. I think I'd buy them even just for the remarkable covers!
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 16 Jun 2010 03:02:09 BDT
Thanks for the interesting review.
Seeing that you're a Nesbo fan, I decided to buy this book.
Posted on 9 Aug 2012 11:42:26 BDT
Mr. Geoffrey Noble says:
You mean 20th Century not 19th Century
In reply to an earlier post on 18 Aug 2012 20:11:00 BDT
Yes I do. Amendment made.
In reply to an earlier post on 7 Nov 2012 22:51:34 GMT
Eileen Shaw says:
Brilliant review - thank you. I'm going to read this as soon as possible.
Posted on 25 Dec 2013 23:46:21 GMT
Henry R. Rupp says:
That anyone could put Eberhard Mock and Aurelio Zen in the same review is rather hard to believe. Mock is gross and violent and without ethics--all this of his own volition. Zen is no straight arrow, and his failings echo those of the system in which he works and has to survive, a system which would throw him under the bus if it suited some big wig's needs. Having read all the Zen novels and Death in Breslau, for me the comparison is odious and offensive.
In reading Krajewski, I can visualize many of his scenes, and they are filled with characters drawn by Georg Groscz, most of all Mock himself.
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