|The Phantoms of Breslau: An Eberhard Mock Investigation by Marek Krajewski and Danusia Stok|
|Category: Crime (Historical)|
|Reviewer: Louise Laurie|
|Summary: This is an accomplished and sophisticated crime novel with lashings of dark humour. The protagonist, Mock, is a complex and intelligent man - but he also has some unresolved personal issues which hamper his line of work.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: July 2010|
|Publisher: Quercus Publishing plc|
Eberhard Mock (a name you would not easily forget) is a police Criminal Assistant. He's a single man still living at home with his father and leading a rather ordinary, uneventful life. Until, one day, four young men who are apparently sailors, are found dead. And Mock is asked by his superior to be part of the new murder commission. He accepts and from there on his life is one roller-coaster of events and emotions.
Mock is a man with an eventful past, however. And now he does not sleep well, his 'phantoms' generally prevent a decent night's sleep. He drinks far too much and has a penchant for flame-haired women. He is also endearingly honest and I took to him immediately. All of the action in this novel takes place in and around Breslau. The chapter headings are precise and to the point.
Right from the start the style of Krajewski is slick and very witty. For example, the conversation between a police officer and the pathologist in the 'four sailors' case goes like this: Were they homosexuals? to which the reply is An examination of their anuses does not support this theory. A simple yes or no is obviously far too dull. And as the plot develops there appears to be some sort of link between Mock and the murdered men. Mock is completely puzzled. He cannot for the life of him fathom it. You can almost feel him scratching his head in frustration. Moreover, the men have come to a very grizzly end. They'd been tortured and it's Mock's job to find out why.
And so his investigation picks up apace, usually in the lower establishments of Breslau, the tatty bars, the brothels. And here we meet some of Krajewski's eccentric characters who all add spice and a bit of mayhem to it all. Krajewski's writing style is wickedly witty but at the same time he's also adopted a rather traditional line in telling his story so there's lots of good, satisfying sentences in amongst the dialogue.
The author's background certainly comes over time and time again. Mock frequently gives Latin quotations and succinct phrases, straight from the classics. Mock comes over as an interesting character. The blurb on both front and back covers gives fulsome praise to this novel. My expectations were therefore high. And while I enjoyed the novel and liked it, I stopped short of loving it.
Mock's 'phantoms' constantly appear and get in the way. The people of Breslau were preparing for sleep. Only one man was preparing himself for a meeting with phantoms. They are described in detail and all I can say is - no wonder Mock drinks if only to try to dull his phantoms. It's a wonder he can operate during his working hours and carry out his job. But he is joyously unorthodox - he spends the odd night in a police cell, voluntarily, rather than trying to stagger home and risk waking his elderly father.
This is a period crime thriller. Lots of unpronounceable names (starting with the author) such as a place called Ursulinenstrasse and a character we meet now and again called, wait for it, Baroness Mathilde Von Brockenheium Und Bielau who add to the general atmosphere. Mock's 'phantoms' are explained towards the end of the novel. I found this a stylish and interesting read.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
If this book appeals then you might also enjoy Fatherland by Robert Harris.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Phantoms of Breslau: An Eberhard Mock Investigation by Marek Krajewski and Danusia Stok at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Phantoms of Breslau: An Eberhard Mock Investigation by Marek Krajewski and Danusia Stok at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.