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Breslau was a German city on the border of Czechoslovakia. It is w, since World War II, Wroclaw, in Poland. Marek Krajewski has written a quartet of vels which unfold the history of this exceptional city, standing on the faultline and crossroads of 20th-century Europe. Breslau 1933: the mutilated bodies of a young woman and her ladies' maid are found dead on a train. Scorpions writhe in their slashed stomach - a horrifying image that becomes crucial to the investigation. Inspector Eberhard Mock is called in to deal with the case, and is assigned an assistant, Herbert Anwaldt, an orphan. The investigation leads them deep into the city's dirty underbelly, where perverted aristocrats cavort with prostitutes, corrupt ministers torture confessions from lowly Jews and Freemasons guard their secrets with blackmail and daggers. As Mock and Anwaldt unravel a mystery of ritual killing that dates back to the time of the Crusades, the elderly Mock and the young, fatherless Anwaldt become close. But the dark, occult aspect of this most macabre of cases might prove too much for Anwaldt's sanity before a solution is secured. What makes Krajewski's story so uncommonly powerful is the stifling atmosphere he conjures of a city in the grip of the Gestapo.
Marek Krajewski is a lecturer in Classical Studies in the University of Wroclaw. His Eberhard Mock quartet of novels enjoyed massive success in Germany and Poland and is now being translated into all the major European languages. Danusia Stok studied French literature at the University of East Anglia and then lived in Poland for several years. She is the author/editor of Kieslowski on Kieslowski, and a translator of modern Polish literature.