The Grain of Truth / Ziarno prawdy is the newest crime novel by Zygmunt Miłoszewski. It is a continuation of the story of Teodor Szacki, the protagonist of Entanglement.
The Grain of Truth and Prosecutor Szacki
It is the freezing spring of 2009. Prosecutor Szacki is no longer working in Warsaw. Instead, he has moved to provincial Sandomierz, to finally say goodbye to his past and career and start a new, admirable life. To his surprise, in his new place of residence he has become a lonely stranger who evokes nothing but distrust.
The embittered Szacki conducts an investigation concerning a strange murder, the victim of which was a local social activist, a widely respected and admired women with an unblemished reputation. He was chosen for this case just because he was the only one not related to the victim. Soon he realises that this little town hides immense mysteries. All of the old guilt and crimes return, and despite it being the 21st century, anti-Semitic prejudices and even the ancient legend of blood libel are revived during his inquiry; psychoses and hysteria lock every door and mouth. In these very unfavourable circumstances prosecutor Szacki tries to find a grain of truth.
Miłoszewski says about his character:
Prosecutor Teodor Szacki was never a man of belief. He did not believe in God, faith, love at first sight, farewell sex, advertising, car mechanics or the existence of good-and-cheap things. But above all he did not believe that he was stuck for good in this bloody overrated town. He could not believe that from a star of the capital's police force, he became a doormat in a provincial town. He did not believe that his family was in the distant past, and their only substitutes were dull physiological love affairs and a relationship that stopped being ‘impossible or exiting’ years ago. He did not believe that it was him who had been given an investigation which would either put him six feet under or make him emigrate to Vanuatu. And he really did not believe that there were places where they don’t wash the coffee maker everyday. He shoved away his cup of coffee with repulsion, rose and did not reply to the honest, small-town ‘goodbye’ of the waitress.
What the critics say
Jarosław Keljnocki wrote on his blog (klejnocki.wydawnictwoliterackie.pl):
(…) a contemporary crime novel is able to raise important moral and social topics (or even political ones – like Larsson) and by this means, appropriating problematic aspects that seemed exclusive for other genres of epic.
Miłoszewski sets the action of his novel in Sandomierz but his image of the city is far away from the silky image popularized by a recent TV series about the priest Mateusz (…) The Grain of Truth is in fact a mixture of a classical intrigue based on a horrific murder (…) with a courageous socio-political pamphlet covering the issues of anti-Semitism, racism, democracy and the activity of governmental institutions and media.
Miłoszewski, fully satisfying the reader's hunger with the crime sequence, apparently decided to draw a portrait of the Polish small-town state of mind. In my opinion, he did great.
Polityka Weekly. Presentation of the nominees for Polityka’s Passports 2011:
In the form of a crime novel, Zygmunt Miłoszewski’s Grain of Truth discusses Polish reality. It turns out that not every rumour or stereotype has its grain of truth; especially in anti-Semitic stereotypes, which are reflected in the famous painting in the Sandomierz Cathedral depicting alleged ritual murder. Miłoszewski shows how easy it is to revive anti-Semitic prejudices in Poland. Meanwhile, the intrigue and the character of Szacki are skilfully and perfectly designed.
He proved four years ago with Entanglement that on the basis of Polish history and societal issues you can build a contemporary crime novel which is good enough to compete with the best European productions. This year’s Grain of Truth confirmed that Miłoszewski has not only a perfect craft but also a huge literary talent. (Marta Mizuro)
Source: www.wab.com.pl, www.polityka.pl, merlin.pl, Translated by W.O. March 2014
- Zygmunt Miłoszewski
Grain of Truth / Zairno prawdy
Series: dark / mroczna
W.A.B. Publishing House, Warsaw, October 2011
size: 123 x 195, pages: 448, soft cover