Lying and Dying by Graham Brack

‘We always disregard the obvious and assume that things are not what they seem.’

The body of a young woman is found strangled, by the side of a road in Prague. Who has killed her and why? The only clue seems to be a large amount of money concealed on her person.

The murder case is assigned to Lieutenant Joseph Slonský and his new partner Navrátil. Slonský who is edging close to retirement, is regarded as something of a maverick by his colleagues. He’s clever but seen as lazy. He does just enough work to ensure that his superior, Captain Lukas, has no grounds to retire him early. Slonský likes to conserve energy but needs frequent refuelling in the form of coffee and food. Navrátil is a recent graduate from the police academy: eager to learn as much as he can. While Slonský doesn’t really want a partner, he’s happy to have a gofer:

‘In return for small domestic services like making coffee, he was prepared to dispense occasional pearls of wisdom that might benefit Navrátil’s career.’

Investigation into the murder seems to indicate that the woman was involved with a member of the Czech government. And when the government minister lies about his involvement with the woman, it all looks very suspicious. But Slonský isn’t convinced. So he keeps digging.

‘Everyone is guilty, sir,’ offered Slonský. ‘They may not be guilty of what they’re charged with, but everyone has done something.’
‘Cynical, and hardly reassuring,’ Lukas observed.
‘But true, sir.’

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, with its twists and turns. Granted, some of those twists are extremely convoluted but Slonský is determined to find the truth. His methods may not be conventional (and his solutions certainly are not) but sometimes (at least in fiction) the ends justify the means. Perhaps. Slonský and Navrátil are great characters: Slonský, the crusty old cop, a flawed character with great knowledge and experience while Navrátil is smart and keen to learn.

I understand this book is the first in a series: I’ll certainly be looking to read the second!

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Sapere for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith