cover image Karolina and the Torn Curtain

Karolina and the Torn Curtain

Maryla Szymiczkowa, trans. from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones. Mariner, $15.99 trade paper (416p) ISBN 978-0-358-15757-1

One night in 1895 Cracow, the body of 17-year-old housemaid Karolina Szulc is found on a river bank, in the pseudonymous Szymiczkowa’s entertaining sequel to 2020’s Mrs. Mohr Goes Missing. Karolina worked for Zofia Turbotynska, a respectable member of the bourgeoisie, who’s incensed by the police assuming the victim was a harlot, given the body’s location in a dubious district of the city. Keen to defend Karolina’s reputation, Zofia sets out to discover the truth. Her investigations put her in contact with every level of society, including prostitutes and socialists, and she even gets a glimpse of visiting Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria. “The excitement she gained from her daring quest for the murderer,” Zofia realizes, “was far greater than the joy of sedately caring for the domestic hearth.” Szymiczkowa (the pen name of writing duo Jacek Dehnel and Piotr Tarczynski) brings Cracow vividly to life and presents the period’s views on women with sly wit. This mystery will please readers looking for an unusual amateur sleuth and a picturesque setting. (Mar.)