The Magician's Accomplice
A Commander Jana Matinova Mystery by Michael Genelin
Review: Bratislava Police Commander Jana Matinova is reassigned to a job pushing papers for the international police organization Europol in The Hague following the death of a prosecutor in the attorney general's office — and her lover — in The Magician's Accomplice, the third mystery in this series by Michael Genelin.
Jana is devastated by the death of Peter Saris. Her superior, Colonel Trokan, wants her out of the way to avoid any unnecessary conflict during the investigation of the murder. Martin Kroslak, the Slovakian representative to Europol, has suddenly gone missing and Trokan assigns Jana as his replacement. Not sure what else to do, she boards a flight to Amsterdam where she meets "The Professor", an aging magician who, not coincidentally, arranged to meet her on the plane. His nephew, a university student, was shot to death while sitting in a restaurant on the same day Peter was murdered, and he wants Jana's help in finding his killer. Jana tells him there's nothing she can do, but they arrange to meet again in a few days, if only as fellow countrymen in a foreign country. Jana quickly discovers she's being followed, by whom and for what reason she does not know. But she also learns that Kroslak's disappearance may have something to do with Peter's murder. Embarking on a renegade investigation for which she has no authority, and accompanied by the Professor who provides diversions when needed, she's determined to find out those responsible for the murder of her lover.
The Magician's Accomplice is a cleverly devised mystery. The use of misdirection is a central theme to her investigation, as Jana realizes early on. The killing of the student in Slovakia had been a trick; the killing of Peter a trick; the disappearance of Kroslak part of a trick. She had to maintain her disbelief, ignore the "smoke and mirrors," and see through the illusion. That Trokan is also using his own form of deception, albeit for all the right reasons, is not lost on Jana. The action moves across borders repeatedly, the author offering local color as a backdrop to what turns out to be a rather complicated case of international intrigue.
The characters are exceptionally well developed, and often show a quick, wry wit, as illustrated by this short exchange between Jana and the Professor midway through the book:
"We're being followed, Professor."
He continued playing with the cards.
"Aren't you bothered with the fact that we're being followed, Professor?"
"You don't have that particular note of urgency in your voice that signifies that someone is about to try to kill us."
The Magician's Accomplice is a superb example of a police procedural that uses a combination of probing investigation and deductive reasoning as its primary method of solving a series of seemingly unrelated crimes. It is one of this year's best in the genre.
Acknowledgment: Soho Press provided an ARC of The Magician's Accomplice for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Soho Crime (Hardcover), July 2009
ISBN-13: 9781569475577; ISBN-10: 1569475571
Requiem for a Gypsy
Soho Crime (Hardcover), July 2011
ISBN-13: 9781569479575; ISBN-10: 1569479577
Location(s) referenced in The Magician's Accomplice: Slovakia, The Hague, The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Austria
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The Magician's Accomplice by Michael Genelin — A Commander Jana Matinova Mystery
Publisher: Soho Crime
Publication Date: July 2010
List Price: $25.00