The thriller and Poland

17 Jul

Someone had a rather trashy idea the other day: someone trapped in a building, he can’t escape, there’s a killer also lurking in the building.  There’s only him and the killer. Thrilling though this sounds, it is the worst kind of cliche. I’m not talking about linguistic cliches, such as ‘the lone wolf, silhouetted against the evening sky, rummaged around in the bin at the end of the day’ (rather tautologous) or pop lyric cliches such as:  ‘I love you baby, you’re the only one’. I’m talking about situations in fiction which are sometimes hard to avoid – the car nearly runs the protagonist over but he jumps out of the way just before he’s going to be killed – well, you could put a James Bond twist to it and have him swimming along and then he’s nearly slapped to death by a shoal of flying fish released by the evil hack who plans to steal his girlfriend, instead of being nearly run over by the car, but that’s not the point.

 In Poland, we don’t have evil hacks trying to steal girlfriends (or, in my case, my wife) by luring the unsupecting victim into a salt water swimming pool full of small Box jellyfish. However, there are  some  dark thriller writers, such as Marek Krajewski, whose writing I admire without necessarily enjoying the reading of it- there are too many street names, and his main character is too grossly decadent. But I had a look at some Polish thrillers to see if I could hack out a detective here in Kujawsko-Pomorskie. I have to admit I have yet to read one (in translation) that I’ve really found unputdownable.

The biggest problem is that my Polish isn’t really good enough to interview the police to ask about police procedure in certain situations, and besides, I have been told by the one Polish policeman that I know that they are always reluctant to discuss things such as this, especially in the case of it appearing in a novel, in case it gives ideas to the criminals. This did actually happen, but in reverse. A Wroclaw killer wrote a novel about someone commiting a murder in exactly the same way as the murder was actually committed – it was bizarre enough a story when it was true and not ‘faction’.

I had a go at making it all up – but I kept on writing a detective who was a Polish Inspector Morse. You’ve got it – he likes classical music, but less Wagner, more Chopin. He has a gruff manner, loves women but usually blows it on the date, his sidekick is less ‘cultured’ but a more likeable person, and so on and so forth. So I abandoned, while carefully squirelling away some of the set-pieces which I thought would do nicely elsewhere.

One set-piece I have kept for another novel but set in England – there are several scenes set in Poland, and I’m still in two minds as to  whether to keep them in.

But I have  another idea for a detective which I hope will be neither derivative nor too outlandish.


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