Where The Devil Cant Go: Anya Lipska

Anya Lipska Author of Where the Devil Cant Go. (One of the authors featured on Polish Crime Night.

Lipska`s debut novel begins when a girl gets washed up on a banks of the River Thames.The case involves what appears to be a suicide victim otherwise known in police lexicon as a “floater”.The case is given to the reluctant young career climbing detective Natalie Kershaw by her sergeant. DS Bacon, a wonderfully archaic character who would have his picture right next to the “what is an anachronism ?

Sergeant Bacon otherwise known as Streaky to the team; resorts to shouting at people by their surname and barely masks his chauvinism and near the knuckle sexism. This is a character who seemingly forgot that times have changed and so have our policeman, yet bounds along like an extra from a 70`s Brit cop show. Janusz Kiszka is a Polish builder whose gruff exterior belies a man racked with guilt in all its guises; religious, personal and emotional and one often having to pursue a tenuous relationship with religion, often careering between right and wrong but occasionally hitting the skids in trying to live a life of a God fearing; good Catholic, Polish citizen. His priest and surrogate father figure, Father Pietruski, implores the hard man with a heart to find a missing young waitress. He sets out to find the girl and becomes embroiled in the shady underworld of drug selling, encounters with less then pleased thugs, and cold blooded murder.

After a small but important piece of evidence is discovered, following the death of a second young woman,Kershaw is led straight to Janusz`s door and is doggedly convinced that he is certainly involved in her death. During the first moment of questioning, Kershaw offers her polite but bullet like questions to Januz, gently poking and prodding for the truth. It grates and riles him and forces him to recall his grandfather`s proverb “where the devil cant go, he sends a woman”, a back-handed compliment, if ever there was one.

A wonderful cat and mouse relationship then ensues where Janusz the hunter, now becomes the hunted. Aside from well drawn out characters, Lipska demonstrates a knack for producing wonderful moments of deliciously black comedy; scenes that are dark as much as they are wickedly funny. In one part, Janusz and his cohort Oska are on their way to deliver a lead coffin in a van bound for Poland. Oska has been offered 2000 euros to “repatriate” a body to Poland inorder to avoid a proper burial and any awkward questions being asked about the accidental death of the construction worker. Janusz is clearly frustrated by the fact that they are heading to Poland in a van carrying a coffin and running the very probable risk of being caught not with illegal contraband but a lead coffin. “I still don’t understand how come youre an undertaker now ” Janusz shouts. “Business, Janek what else ?” Oska replies.

For fans of criminology and all slavish followers of television dramas such as the excellent BBC drama “Silent Witness” et al, her meticulous police details especially during autopsy scenes make really engaging reading.

The author later dials up the intrigue and pace of the novel and you are pulled into the criminal underworld, leaving you cooking up possible summations and leaving conspiracy theorists frankly cooing with delight. This pacy novel serves up a delicious cocktail of intrigue, murder, and black humour. Personally I would have liked maybe more descriptions of an atmospheric London backdrop, darker urban undertones and an even thicker spread of conspiracy plotting. On a few fleeting occasions the plot line felt a little truncated near the end as Lipska slowly pieces the clues together. However she soon ratchets up the heat once more and gives a barnstormer of an ending that more than adequately delivers. This is a pitch-perfect novel which will have you turning the page in auto-mode. Something tells me that Lipska is set to become the poster-girl for great Polish crime fiction.

Where The Devil Cant Go: Author Anya Lipska. Published by The Friday Project

Where The Devil Cant Go: Anya Lipska

Polish Crime Fiction Night : Celebrating Crime Fiction Writing

Polish Crime Fiction NightThe event celebrated the brightest and best in Polish crime fiction writing talent. The literary- set included William Broderick author of The Day of a Lie; Anya Lipska author of Where the Devil Cant Go, Joanna Jodelka author of Polychrome and also Mariusz Czubaj author of 21:37
Journalist Rosie Goldsmith charmingly picked apart the ingredients of Polish crime fiction. Was there something unique to Polish crime fiction that stood it apart from the well thumbed novels of Ian Rankin and what were the common characteristics, if any, amongst the selected writers?

Mariusz Czubaj
Mariusz Czubaj is the author of the intriguingly entitled yet easily memorable 21:37 Interestingly in case you were wondering just what was behind the title of Mariusz`s book 21:37, it signifies the time Polish Pope John Paul was meant to have nearly died. Interviewer Rosie Goldsmith asked Czubaj if he was brave to write a story involving potent topics such as politics, religion, and corruption and expose himself to criticism in the process. As far as abuse allegations within the church were concerned, Czubaj was blissfully unaware of any allegations of abuse within the church until after the book was published. However he struck me as something of an iconoclast with a healthy irreverence for the shortcomings of institutions, and would not risk fear garrot his creativity. A great novel but something of a sleeper in literary terms. Czubaj revealed when published in 2008, it received a lukewarm response from the Polish public. Was there no appetite for crime fiction or did the novel offend conservative (with a small c) Polish reading tastes? Journalist Rosie Goldsmith then commented on the main character within 21:37 Interestingly the main protagonist in the book Rudolph was an interesting character, free from stereotypes. Czubaj explained that the character’s profession as profiler, was a “metaphor” for someone who was basically a “good person in a crazy world” and far from a two dimensional character, he was one made of real “blood and guts”.

L-R  William Broderick. Anya Lipska, Joanna Jodelpa, and Mariusz Czubaj
L-R William Broderick. Anya Lipska, Joanna Jodelka, and Mariusz Czubaj

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Joanna Jodelka won the High Calibre Award for the Best Polish Crime Novel, taking the prize in 2010 for her debut Polychrome (Polichromia, 2009).Former art historian, Joanna Jodelka explained that she was determined to write a crime novel and used her thesis to help her write the book. Infact we may have not have seen her first book, had it not been for her then professor`s constant goading. It seemed it was a torturous experience but a cathartic one for her. Jodelka was in fact the first Polish female to win the High Calibre award. Were there a distinct lack of Polish female crime fiction writers? interviewer Rosie Goldsmith asked. Jodelka revealed that since winning the award, there were more Polish female crime fiction writers coming forward. Could we expect a whole new sub genre of crime fiction with darker, intelligent female insights with less machismo, to rival the current body of American or English male crime fiction writers? Do female crime fiction writers make better writers then male crime fiction writers ? Now that’s a question to get the male literary rabble roused.
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Next to bask in the glow of literary adulation was novelist Anya Lipska, with her debut novel Where The Devil Cant Go. The sometime television producer wanted the structure of a crime novel which could get into peoples` motivations and has issues of morality, guilt, loss and betrayal. Interviewer Rosie Goldsmith made a salient point of how Lipska manages to bridge the two cultures by producing the two key characters; the ambitious young detective Natalie Kershaw and hard man with a heart Janusz Kiszka , a kind of underworld fixer/sleuth who is less sleuth and more ruthless. Interviewer Rosie Goldsmith asked Did she know people like them? According to Lipska, Natalie is a woman in a man`s world and like her, she was a woman in a man`s television exec world so they were “composite characters”.

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Finally William Broderick author of The Day of the Lie. An interesting background, beginning his life as a friar in Dublin, Ireland. After several years as a friar, he left the order to help set up a charity at the request of Cardinal Hume, The Depaul Trust. In 1991 he became a barrister and is now a writer. He has written several books featuring the character Father Anslem. Rather then a protagonist flawed and haunted by inner demons, we have Father Anslem who Broderick explains is plagued by the never -ending question of why people commit crimes. Broderick has several books with a Polish connection. Why Poland ? interviewer Rosie Goldsmith asked. Broderick commented that his mother who was of Dutch origin, believed that the “English know what it is to be bombed but not to be occupied and according to Broderick there was a “profound ignorance of the Polish (war) experience.”

The event proved to be a wonderful foray into Polish crime fiction writing, peppered with interesting insights and personalised with readings. For me, the well-organised event was a seminal moment and provided a photo-fit of Polish crime writing in 2014. We were witnessing possibly the beginning of a literary movement that could see the birth a whole new sub-genre which in time will hopefully see a burgeoning Polish Crime fiction scene.

Anya Lipska: Where The Devil Cant Go Published by Friday Project

Joanna Jodelka: Polychrome Polychrome was translated by Danusia Stok

William Broderick: The Day of The Lie It is published by Little Brown.

Mario Cibaj: 21:37 published by Stork Press and translated by Anna Hyde.

Interviewer
Rosie Goldsmith is Chair of European Literature Night held at the British Library.She is a journalist specializing in arts and international affairs, in the UK and abroad. As a BBC broadcaster she travelled the world, from Libya to Japan to East Timor. She began her career at the BBC in 1989 on a programme called ‘Europhile’, covering events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall and the revolutions of Eastern Europe. She also presented flagship BBC radio shows like Front Row, Open Book, A World In Your Ear and Crossing Continents.

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