Requiem For A Gypsy
by Michael Genelin
I know how you feel. You pick up a mystery set in a European country and you have second thoughts. “I can’t pronounce the names,” you say. “I not familiar with the cities.” My answer? Who cares if the street, city, or personal names are half a mile long or don’t contain but one vowel? With Genelin’s latest Jana Matinova mystery, you’ll forget all about the confusing names and enjoy a intriguing little mystery while touring some of Europe’s locales. Matinova character is caring, witty, and her deductive reasoning is very convincing.
Commander Matinova attends a party for a financier politico wannabe and ends up watching the man’s wife get killed. Staying out of the public eye, she parallels the official investigation, always staying a step ahead, but always searching for what she’s not being told. With the help of an enigmatic and precocious teenage street girl, and avoiding several attempts on her own life, Matinova puts together the pieces of a puzzle that has connections to bands of thugs in World War II.
You always expect a little something extra when there is history involved, tendrils reaching into the past, mixing a little truth with fiction. Being viewed through foreign eyes gives it a little different perspective than if, say an American detective were working on this.
Jana Matinova – Commander in the Bratislava police. She uses deductive reasoning to find clues, pieces of evidence, and to sort out details.
Colonel Trokan – Jana’s superior. Very supportive of Jana. Intelligent.
Seges – Jana’s warrant officer. Young. He wants a transfer to another unit.
Em Mrvova – 13 (?), street girl. Knocks on Jana’s door selling earrings.
Oto Bogan – Financier. Caught up in a scheme not of his own making.
Each character is defined although the story only delves into Matinova’s background. The characters are pretty standard: the commanding officer, the mobster, the assassins, the money hungry killer.
What needs to be said is said. Interrogations are done succinctly, summations are made quickly. A little profanity, but not excessive.
I’d compare it to flying two feet above the water with occasional dips beneath the surface. There are no suspenseful moments. The action scenes are minimalist in nature and read like a weather forecast. I like the logical thinking of Matinova and the other tidbits that round out this story.
Besides her major case, she deals with the shooting death of a Gypsy boy, and how recollections of her mother’s Communist attitude shape her own thoughts. This Genelin’s fourth Matinova mystery so fans should be satisfied with another fine novel.