Another one of my fantastic Polish crime Christmas gifts. Maybe it was not so much a crime as a psychological thriller. This was the last one of my stash and since I am still sticking with book buying ban, there may not be many more for a while, so rejoice 😉
In a medium-sized town someone takes a whole kindergarten hostage, there are no demands, but a live feed from the inside appears online. Police, not really sure what to do involved as a consultant our main character Gustaw Edling, a behavioral psychologist that used to work for the police, but was fired due to a mysterious scandal. Edling is supposed to help to understand the kidnapper’s intentions, by observing his non-verbal communication. Here I was a bit doubtful, I really don’t have that much faith in this type of ‘personality reading’, but Mróz sells it well, starting with the fact that Edling needs a baseline to compare the current behavior to something, which makes some sense. The live feed starts showing two people and our kidnapper explaining that he will kill one of them, he provides brief biographies of his victims and asks people to vote online. From here on a whole action packed story starts.
The idea may not be completely new, but execution is really great, with twists and turns all the time and also not lacking some depth. What I found interesting was not necessarily the idea of the ‘common people’ being forced to make a moral choice, but more how hunting evil taints the hunters. How work with misery and cruelty changes everyone involved. How a lot of our values that we always think to be absolute turn out to be relative when put to a test. I think this moral aspect combined with fast paced plot was the greatest strength of the book. It does not provide answers as to what’s right or wrong, but it made me question what I would do if faced with some of the choices described.
A warning for the faint-hearted the book is cruel and at times almost gory, be prepared, but it is worth reading, for a thought-provoking and yet entertaining read. Rare combination of both.
Have you read any good crime recently?