The Minotaur’s Head
Eberhard Mock. He’s a bit of a character. Epicure, classicist, bon viveur, hedonist, not exactly the ideal husband, equally at home in the underworld as in the ranks of authority, he is without doubt the most outrageous and original detective in the wide world of crime fiction. And he’s back . . .
Marek Krajewski, his creator, was born in Wroclaw and worked for many years as a lecturer in Classical Studies at the city’s university, before turning to crime writing with the Eberhard Mock Investigations. He draw on the city’s rich and dark recent history in framing his larger than life detective: Wroclaw was known as Breslau and was part of Germany until 1945, when it was given to Poland under the terms of the Potsdam Conference.
The first Eberhard Mock Investigation to be published in English was Death in Breslau, set in 1933, the year the Nazis swept to power. Breslau was known as a stronghold of left-wing liberalism in the pre-war days of the German Empire, but by 1932 it had become a key supporter of Hitler’s upstart party.
The End of the World in Breslau, published in English a year later, is set in 1927, the licentious heyday of the short-lived Weimar Republic, before the Wall Street Crash put a stop to the American loans that had funded the hedonism.
Phantoms of Breslau (2010) takes us to 1919, with Germany still numbed by defeat, influenza and the harsh terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Eberhard Mock, at this stage but a lowly Criminal Assistant, finds himself quite literally haunted by his wartime sins.
The Minotaur’s Head is a departure from the three previous novels. For one thing, the title does not include “Breslau”, which is quite fitting as it is the only novel of the four not to be set there. A particularly vicious murder leads Mock (now in 1939 an Abwehr Captain) to Lwów – now Lviv and part of Ukraine, then a Polish city – where a number of similar cases have been reported. In Poland it is his privilege to work with Commissioner Popielski, a fellow classicist who relies on a particularly unorthodox method of deduction. But by the end of the whole affair, a particularly sordid case even by Mock’s standards, it is his underworld connections that get the job done.
All the artwork for the Eberhard Mock Investigations comes courtesy of Andrzej Klimowski, a graphic artist who lectures at the Royal College of Art. His work includes the amazing graphic novel version of Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. We are planning to give away one full set of Eberhard Mock hardbacks, the last in captivity, signed by the author himself, and, now that I think of it, perhaps the artist too. The details will be announced in our next newsletter. Sign up to be in it to win it.