PIONEK (THE PAWN)
MAŁGORZATA FUGIEL-KUŹMIŃSKA, MICHAŁ KUŹMIŃSKI, NOVEL, 2016
Spring 2015. A female student at the Silesian Technology University has been brutally murdered. Her body is found in the park, in the center of the silesian town of Gliwice. This reminds the locals of the serial killer, who haunted the region of Gliwice and nearby towns of Bytom and Zabrze over 20 years ago. “The Vampire of Szombierki” was sentenced to 25 years in prison for a series of crimes against women. His term comes to an end soon and he will go free.
An independent journalist and blogger, Bastian Strzygoń, goes back on his case with the help of Anna Serafin – an academic cultural anthropologist, who agrees to meet with the convict and perform “an interview with the vampire”. However, it quickly turns out that there are more questions than answers in this case and that someone really wants to keep the past buried. In the meantime, the events of the present make the situation even more complicated…
What is wrong with the industrial region of Upper Silesia, ”Polish Manchester”? Famous for coal mining, ironworks and complex history (the territory used to belong to Germany before World War II), but also for serial killers – called “the vampires”? In order to understand the mind of a killer and answer this question, Anna and Bastian will need to understand the Silesian culture, from the dark, stuffy undergrounds of the workers’ districts, to the top levels of local authorities. Doing so will necessitate dealing with the ghosts of the past and the relics of hard and painful economic transformation of the 90’s that have changed the landscape of the industrial Silesia forever. This investigation will force them to confront with their own traumas, fears, desires and limits. As well as learning the price of the truth and the consequences of right and wrong choices.
The book is praised for its factographic and psychological realism, for deep insight into the cultural and social characteristics of the Upper Silesia region, for vivid characters that challenge the cliches and for subtle crime plot. It’s the second book with the characters of Anna Serafin, the anthropologist, and Sebasitam Strzygoń, the journalist, who solve the crime mysteries located in ethnically or culturally specific regions of Poland.
It’s a pure-blooded, strong crime story, Still, stylish and tasteful: the authors in an extraordinary way express the Silesian atmosphere (both contemporary and from the ’90 transformation period), and present its exceptional postindustrial beauty and darkness… This book may be relished as a piece of true literature. And in the same time – scale of their narrative makes it hard to tear yourself away from this book.
| Piotr Bratkowski, Newsweek Polska
Despite that it’s fiction, it feels like a piece of journalism, a true story… If a married couple can create such a good novel together without killing each other, you may only congratulate them!
| Pocisk, the Magazine of Crime Literature
RIGHTS AVAILABLE: WORLD
See the gallery of Silesian landscapes portreyed in the novel:
Małgorzata Fugiel-Kuźmińska, Michał Kuźmiński, novel, 2015
Anna Serafin, a young cultural anthropologist, wants to spend her holiday in Tatra mountains of southern Poland, among breathtaking landscapes and the natives famous for unique folk culture. While there, Anna wants to relax and find her own identity. Instead, she finds a corpse. The dismembered and massacred body of elderly Tatra Highlander named Jan Śleboda, whose story leads deep into carefully concealed secrets from the past. These highlanders, although perceived as exemplary Poles and keepers of national values, bear the collective burden inherited from their forefathers.
It is not widely known that during World War II, while Poland was suffering under German occupation, some highlanders willingly collaborated with Nazis. Was Śleboda murdered in the act of revenge for a treason from the past? Will the conspiracy of silence be finally breached? Anna Serafin, reluctantly cooperating with a witty tabloid journalist Bastian Strzygoń, conducts a private investigation. She follows the clues into the history of her own family and the death of Jan Śleboda turns out to be just the beginning.
In order for Anna and Bastian to figure out who painted a swastika with blood on Śleboda’s wall they will need to navigate a world of splendid nature with a tainted history and daily hardships. While also understanding the unique cultural heritage among the dichotomous population of generous, open-hearted folks and greedy swindlers. Will they learn the price of highanders’ freedom? How ambiguous freedom can be, when the word for freedom in their dialect is śleboda?
The novel was recognized as portraying the vibrant montane region both picturesque and accurate and as couragously exploring difficult past and tangled present of Polish highlanders.
This novel has nothing to do with a touristic idyll. It’s a pure crime story, a picture of stuffy mountains saturated with greed and blood, full of contemporary grudges and secrets from the past…
| Mariusz Czubaj, crime fiction writer, professor of cultural anthropology
In this book, there is everything a good crime story needs: plot, passion, love, treason, mysterious past, big money. And the corpses (as many, as four)… The atmosphere of this story reminds me of Swedish crime novels, with Stieg Larsson’s Millenium series.
| Bartłomiej Kuraś, Gazeta Wyborcza
RIGHTS AVAILABLE: WORLD
SEE THE GALLERY OF TATRA LANDSCAPES PORTREYED IN THE NOVEL:
Crime&Mystery series of vintage Kraków
KLĄTWA KONSTANTYNA (THE CURSE OF CONSTANTINE)
MAŁGORZATA FUGIEL-KUŹMIŃSKA, MICHAŁ KUŹMIŃSKI, NOVEL, 2011
A sequel to the widely acclaimed crime novel The Mystery of Kroke, which was nominated for the High Calibre award. The year is 1945. On the orders of US intelligence, Mikhail Romanov, the worst spy in the world, and failed commando Andrzej Mewa set oﬀ on a secret mission to Poland. Their task is to ﬁnd the legendary will of the Emperor Constantine, the contents of which may determine the fate of Europe. But in post-war Krakow the Soviet NKVD, the Polish secret police and the Palestinian organisation Shai are also playing their sinister game. Something even more potentially dangerous than an enemy ambush is… a honey trap. Here we have a brilliant plot, some superbly depicted elements of reality, some artful playing with literary conventions and a surprising denouement – the new, not entirely serious thriller from the authors of The Mystery of Kroke is topquality entertainment.
RIGHTS AVAILABLE: WORLD
SEKRET KROKE (THE MYSTERY OF KROKE)
MAŁGORZATA FUGIEL-KUŹMIŃSKA, MICHAŁ KUŹMIŃSKI, NOVEL, 2009
Kroke means Cracow in Yiddish. The Mystery of Kroke is a vivid criminal spy novel. Its action is set among alleys, gates and tenement houses of Kazimierz – a legendary Jewish district in Cracow. A Gestapo oﬃcer, a cardinal from Vatican and a mysterious American collector follow the trail of a secret society – The Brotherhood of Alchemists. The Brotherhood keeps in hiding a secret scroll dating back to the times of Christ. There are also other people willing to look for the scroll. Among them there is a priest with some obscure anarchist episode in his past, a legendary Warsaw’s killer and cutthroat, and the main character – Mikhail Romanov – a rascal with Humphrey Bogart’s looks, James Bond’s manners and the personality of a pirate of the Caribbean… The Mystery of Kroke is full of daring chases, cruel murders in shady dead-ends, extravagant characters, passionate love stories and terrifying mysteries… Nobody knows exactly what secret is hidden in the longed-for scroll.
RIGHTS SOLD: FRANCE (DE LANNURIEN EDITIONS)
SEE THE GALLERY OF Places PORTREYED IN THE NOVELs:
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Małgorzata Fugiel-Kuźmińska (b. 1982) – graduated in culture studies and Public Relations, she is a program manager for Information Technology industry. She is an author of essays on popular culture.
Michał Kuźmiński (b. 1981) – a journalist, lyrics writer and blogger. Deputy editor-in-chief of a prestigious Tygodnik Powszechny weekly based in Krakow.
They have been married since 2006. They live in Krakow. Together they have created a web portal devoted to roman architecture (www.albumromanski.pl) and authored numerous articles. They write together since 2009.
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