The Night Reporter: A 1938 Lviv Murder Mystery

Written by Alla Perminova (trans.) Michael M. Naydan (trans.) Yuri Vynnychuk
Review by Edward James

If you think all East European novels are long, slow, and heavy, you have not encountered any of Yuri Vynnychuk’s historical crime stories. Set in 1938 in the Ukrainian city now known as Lviv, they read like novels set in Chicago or Los Angeles by Raymond Chandler or Mickey Spillane. The central character in The Night Reporter is Marko Krylovych, an investigative journalist who does his research after sunset in the drinking dens of Lviv. The book is written almost entirely in dialogue—quickfire exchanges with few speeches. Description is short and crisp. The story is about gangsters, corruption and murder. The women are beautiful and as ruthless as the men.

Lviv, then Polish, is living in the shadow of the forthcoming war, and there are hints of this in the story, but basically this is a straightforward crime novel and a good one.