The Minotaur’s Head

Written by Danusia Stok (trans.) Marek Krajewski
Review by Ian Roberts

Fans of the wonderful Polish crime writer Marek Krajewski will be thrilled at this, his latest story in translation, featuring policeman Eberhard Mock. It is actually the sixth investigation for the Abwehr detective (but, to date, only four of Krajewski’s books have been translated into English). The Minotaur’s Head is a strange choice, too, as Mock is more of a supporting character here, in a gruesome, harrowing tale set in Lwów, Poland, that revolves around a spate of unsolved murders where the victims are all young girls found defiled, strangled and with the flesh torn from their cheeks.

The chief protagonist, Commissioner Popielski, is, like Mock, a policeman, a linguist and a classicist who is also prone to regular indulgences involving food, alcohol and loose women (and preferably all three at the same time). Those readers who enjoy Philip Kerr’s wonderful Bernie Gunther books will be mightily intrigued by this pre-war investigation set in Poland prior to the German invasion of 1939. It is incredibly atmospheric, with class, culture, customs and the cuisine of the times positively dripping off the pages. It is beautifully evocative of the age, as well as being a captivating intellectual twist on the great detective stories of Raymond Chandler.