September 2013

Anya Lipska - Where The Devil Can't Go

"...Lipska’s dark and mesmerising tale had me enraptured."

Janusz Kiszka is the Polish man people go to when they have a problem that needs solving. And not in an ethical manner, either. He is the man in the shadows who is not too fussed about crossing any lines to get the job done. However, things get out of hand for the big man when he is asked by his old friend, Father Pietruski, to 'find a girl'. Little does Janusz know that what looks on the surface as a search for a girl who has recently landed in the UK and most likely run off with some boy, turns in to a case that will have him travelling across Europe and fighting for his own life.

Alongside Kiszka's case is another case of another girl from the Polish community being found dead in the River Thames. And very soon after this discovery there is another girl found dead in a hotel room – and a serious clue leads DC Natalie Kershaw directly to Janusz's door. All too soon Janusz can see that he has opened a can of worms that reverberates down the years and in to the heart of Communist Poland. With Kershaw keeping Janusz in her sights, her gut instinct telling her he knows more than he is letting on, Janusz hopes to be able to find this missing girl before they all end up dead.

Anya Lipska has tapped in to a community which has been controversial and is riddled with the ghosts of Communism. She depicts the savagery of Communism within Poland with chilling effect. As this was unchartered territory, it took me a little while to 'bed down' and get in to the flow of Janusz's character and mindset. However, once this was accomplished, Lipska's dark and mesmerising tale had me enraptured. Lipska is proficient at character and people like Oskar, who was welcome comic relief, took on a life of his own. Lipska's debut is definitely Janusz's tale and although Kershaw gets equal billing, I did feel that she was only used as a necessary foil to Janusz. I hope that Lipska will explore Kershaw fully in future novels.

My only comment on this book is that some of the chapters were far too long. Some came in at over thirty pages which inhibited my enjoyment as it can be off-putting to start another thirty page chapter at two in the morning! I could see natural breaks in the chapters that would have made some of these larger segments more digestible. This small adjustment would have added to the pace of the novel. Also, a glossary of Polish words, I feel, would be extremely helpful to any reader. Lipska is an exciting new voice on the crime scene with a whole new landscape to explore. With EU border restrictions being lifted in January 2014 and the controversy that is already causing, I am sure that Lipska will be flooded with material for her books. And I, for one, will be looking forward to spending more time in the company of Janusz Kiszka. 'Where The Devil Can't Go' is a stunning debut.

Reviewed by: C.S.

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