Wednesday, 3 October 2012

MAREK KRAJEWSKI - DEATH IN BRESLAU


The book is set in Breslau a pre-WW2 town in Germany in 1933, subsequently Polish post-war.

In a nutshell, a triple murder, double rape has occurred and Mock the policeman or Kriminaldirektor is tasked with solving the case. Most of the narrative takes place during 1933, with the concluding passage wrapping things up in 1951.

I’m undecided as to my feelings about the book overall. Clichés such as un-put-down-able or page-turner definitely don’t apply in this instance. Occasionally you read a book that instead of leaving at home in the morning, you take it to work in the car, you read a few pages when you park, then pop it in your desk drawer ready to catch a chapter at lunchtime......hmmm, not this time.

I suppose my main reaction is ambivalence, I didn’t feel any empathy or connection to Mock or his underling Anwaldt. I wasn’t outraged by the crimes in the beginning and I wasn’t that fussed by the outcome at the end.

Krajewski was skilled at evoking the mood of pre-war Germany and the menace felt by those who though part of the establishment, weren’t part of the growing Brown-shirted, Gestapo loving, Hitlerite factions. Loyalties, alliances and confidences were undertaken with caution, a fact which ratcheted the tension in progressing the investigation into the crimes.

That alone made the book a worthwhile read, though in my opinion the whole raison d’être for the crimes struck me as wholly implausible.

Decide in haste and repent at leisure. I can’t actually recall why I bought this book, or the following two Krajewski Breslau/Mock that follow, but whilst I will read the second and third titles eventually; had I only bought the first, I wouldn’t be rushing to the shops for numbers two and three.  

I have some Philip Kerr/Bernie Gunther pre-war Berlin books that I’m looking forward to a lot more. I wouldn’t put anyone off from reading this, but neither would I rush to recommend it either........3 from 5 probably, 2 would be too harsh.  

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