Here I go, creating new classifications of writing again. If anything, this book should fall into a genre called “Cozy International Mystery.” It has all of the trappings of Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne series, but the sex, violence and gratuitous non-stop action are all toned down. There is more time spent on characterization, social setting and emotion.
Adam Kaminski is a Philadelphia police detective invited at the last minute to go on a public relations tour to a sister city in Poland. While he is there, a chance meeting with a shirttail relative in trouble starts him off on a tense and trying attempt to justify his existence.
Kaminski is a fully rounded character, a policeman with a rare streak of empathy and a history of his own to overcome. This, combined with our sympathy for the other characters, makes us really care about the outcome of the story.
Because of the slightly uncertain premise that a detective can solve a crime in a country where he does not even speak the language decently, the conflict in the first half of the book is less about the mystery, and more about his efforts to integrate himself into the society enough to make some progress in the case he has taken on. Once the detective becomes fully immersed in the intrigue and starts to find out what is going on, he is able to come up to speed in his investigation, and the pace improves. The final few chapters, where we follow through the solving of the crime, are concise, accurate, and tense. The clues are convoluted and slippery. But the heroes win through in the end, where the depth of intrigue in the levels of Polish history comes into play.
This author is to be congratulated for hitting on the setting of Poland, a ripe source of international intrigue because of its many-layered recent history of invasion, corruption, espionage and conspiracy. I particularly enjoyed the setting descriptions, although sometimes they contributed to the slow pace.
As long as you understand that you are going to find character and setting taking precedence over violence and action and don’t mind a plotline that depends quite a bit on coincidence, you’re going to love this book. Recommended for the less violence-oriented of International Mystery fans and anyone who has visited Warsaw. 4 stars out of 5.
I was given a free copy of the book in order to write this review.(4 / 5)