Zygmunt Miloszewski, one of Poland’s bestselling novelists, has made the long trip to Chicago to celebrate Rage (AmazonCrossing, Aug.), the third in his thriller series (after Entanglement and A Grain of Truth) featuring state prosecutor Teodor Szachi—pronounced “Shutski”—a man of indeterminate middle age who doggedly pursues cases of the most gruesome sort. In Rage, someone is killing domestic abusers, and it falls to Szachi to find and prosecute the murderer.

“You may get the impression that Szachi is past his prime because he’s so grumpy, angry, and bad-tempered,” says Miloszewski. “Well, the truth is Poles are not exactly the most joy-radiating nation in the world. We make up for it with irony and black, fatalistic humor.”

Miloszewski (pronounced “Mewasheffski”) says he started to write crime novels because he sees the genre as ideal for describing a society, its issues and its dirty secrets. “I wanted to give my readers as complex and complete a picture of Poland as possible, and that’s why each part of this series take place in a completely different city: metropolitan Warsaw, the picturesque medieval shithole of Sandomierz, and Olsztyn, once German, now Polish, the capital of a beautiful province, a holiday destination. My novels tackle such topics as the shadow of the Communist era, Polish xenophobia, violence against women—all these themes are considered national taboos.” His world-weary prosecutor, he says, is the only link between the three books.

Of him he says, “I like the way he changes as he grows older. There are characters in fiction who never change, James Bond for example, and there are characters like Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallander, who gradually turns from a middle-aged policeman into an old man, saying his good-byes. I prefer the latter option—I think the opportunity to follow a character through the decades is a great advantage in writing a series.”

Rage, set in Olsztyn, he says, was originally going to be a novel about the tensions between the Poles and the Germans. “But once I was sitting in the local library, trying to stay awake as I browsed through the most local of local papers, something caught my attention: a large number of articles on domestic abuse. I decided to talk to people, and learn more. And I found out that despite my knowledge, education, and the fact I’m married to a feminist, I know very little about violence against women. So I thought again. And wrote a different book than I had planned.”

Today Miloszewski signs ARCs at Table 11 in the Autographing Area, 1:30–2 p.m. Tomorrow, 7–8:30 p.m., he will be joined by Sara Paretsky and Laura Caldwell for a discussion of crime writing sponsored by the Polish Book Institute at Open Books, 651 W. Lake St.

This article appeared in the May 12, 2016 edition of PW BEA Show Daily.