Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Where the Devil Can’t Go by Anya Lipska

Reviewed by Chris Longmuir

Where the Devil Can’t go was a fantastic read. It was part thriller and part crime novel, with an unusual theme. The main character is Janusz Kiszka, a fixer for the Polish community in Britain. On the surface he appears as a tough, working class Polish man who has made London his home. He moves around in the Polish community and knows most of what is going on. He considers himself a trader and imports Polish alcohol which most of the community prefer to the British brands. If there are problems to be fixed, he is the man to ask.

Janusz is, however, a much more complex character. His father was a highly regarded professor of physics at Gdansk university, and Janusz attended university in his native Poland. He is intelligent with wide interests, although this is not apparent to any of his colleagues, or the people who come into contact with him. In Poland he had been involved in the Solidarity movement, and had been a freedom fighter, which seems to be one of the reasons he left his homeland. However, there is a mystery as to why he left his wife and child behind when he came to England, although this is eventually revealed. I found him to be a fascinating character.

Janusz is approached by his priest and asked to trace a young Polish girl, Weronica, the illegitimate daughter of a Polish politician, and there is a presidential election about to take place. According to the priest, the girl has run off with a drug-dealing boyfriend, and it is considered he is a danger to her.

But, there is a second strand to this novel which involves a British police detective investigating the murder of a young Polish girl who has apparently drowned in the Thames. Initially I thought this might be Weronica, but I was wrong. Closely after this another young girl, one of Weronica’s friends, is found murdered, shortly after being interviewed by Janusz.

This is the start of a thrilling story where Janusz frequently finds himself in dangerous situations while, at the same time, trying to avoid the detective. A common thread running through the book is the Polish community’s distrust of the police, preferring to solve their own problems in their own way. Needless to say this results in many twists and turns before the denouement.

It would be unfair to share much more of the story as this would probably result in spoilers. Suffice it to say, I found the book intriguing as it flipped between the police procedural parts and the political thriller parts. It was a book I could not put down until I reached the last page.

Chris Longmuir

You can find the book at:-