Krajewski, Marek - 'Phantoms of Breslau' (translated by Danusia Stok)
PHANTOMS OF BRESLAU is the third book in this dark quintet featuring Eberhard Mock and it appears that the books are going backwards in time, as this one is set in 1919 some years before the previous two books. Set in German Breslau, now the Polish city of Wroclaw, we meet Mock at an early stage in his career as a policeman and at a time when he is still living with his father in a small flat over a former butcher's shop.
Mock is called to the horrific murder scene of four young men, where a note has been left telling him to admit to his mistake, admit he has come to believe, or there will be more bodies. The note means nothing to him but as his investigation progresses, anyone who has spoken to him becomes a victim themselves. Interspersed in the narrative are chapters from the murderer's point of view, giving some idea of the motive behind the murders but keeping the reader mostly in the dark until the stunning resolution.
PHANTOMS OF BRESLAU is my second Mock read and I found it a much easier read than DEATH IN BRESLAU; it could be I'm more used to the style but it's slightly less complicated in terms of hierarchy of the competing authorities and has all the story taking place over a couple of months rather than in two separate eras. Though young, Mock is already the boozy, womanising figure of the later-set books and is not a likeable character but he is a very definite character and one you want to see get to the bottom of the note and the murders. This is a well constructed plot which is supported by a vivid recreation of a city, subsequently bombed to bits during the Siege of Breslau, and a time now consigned to the history books.
A new style of cover is planned for the paperback and I hope that will help get this ambitious and unusual series the recognition it deserves.
Read another review of PHANTOMS OF BRESLAU.
Karen Meek, England