Entanglement by Zygmunt Miłoszewski

courtesy of Bitter Lemon Press

I earlier wrote about Miłoszewski after seeing him and a gaggle of other European crime novelists in November. After picking up a copy of his book at The Mysterious Bookshop, I eagerly anticipated how the protagonist, State Prosecutor Teodor Szacki would solve the intriguing and bizarre murder that starts Entanglement.

I love when a book makes me wonder if certain events that are happening actually exist in the real world or are solely fabricated for the novel. Take Family Constellation Therapy as an example. I had no idea that it was an existing therapeutic process; I took to the internet immediately to research! The way Miłoszewski portrayed the therapy session allowed the reader to imagine the group as a secretive and mysterious cult-like experience. At the onset of the novel, there is of course a dead body. After the therapy session, one of the participants, Henry Telak, is found dead with a roasting spit impaled through his eye. Is it murder? Is it a bizarre suicide? The reader will only know once they’ve reached the end of the book.

Entanglement was interesting–it was presented as a police procedural but with a twist. The main detective figure was actually a prosecutor who is investigating this strange murder. At first, I wondered if this was the norm within Polish society but even Miłoszewski writes that this is out of the ordinary for a prosecutor.

The prose moves fast and I couldn’t wait to follow Szacki along on his investigation. I wanted to know every piece of evidence that was collected and I wanted to “assist” Szacki to find the truth. However, it felt like Miłoszewski would get sidetracked. Many other murder cases from decades past were brought up, leaving me wondering what made them so important or how were they connected to the Telak murder (a smidgen of which is cleared up towards the end). Also, Szacki was written like many other male sleuths before him–never a nice word to say about women; always criticizing them and viewing them physically ugly and frumpy. It would have been nice to see a unique portrayal of this archetype. At times, the novel could be tedious but nonetheless, still enjoyable. The conclusion was slightly too easy and was reminiscent of a wrap up by Monsieur Poirot.

Yet, I still recommend this strange little novel from Poland (at the very least, you can take pleasure in the absurdity of Family Constellation Therapy).

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