Requiem for a Gypsy
A Commander Jana Matinova Mystery by Michael Genelin
Review: Commander Jana Matinova investigates the incidental sniper shooting of the wife of a prominent businessman, only to discover that the woman may have been the intended target of the killer, in Requiem for a Gypsy, the fourth mystery in this series by Michael Genelin.
The dead woman is Klara Boganova, her husband Oto Bogan also hit but surviving the attempted murder. Jana's analysis of the crime scene indicates that there must have been two shooters and two targets, leading her to conclude that Klara's shooting could not have been incidental. Indeed, it seems as if Klara may have hired the snipers to kill her husband. But why two? And why did they end up killing her? Separately, two other cases have also landed on Jana's desk, one involving a dead Slovak in Paris, who was found with multiple identities on his person, and another featuring a dead Turk, killed with an ice pick driven through his eye. It isn't long before she realizes all three cases are connected, and what links them comes in the unlikely form of a 13-year-old girl, who arrives on Jana's doorstop one night in the middle of a snowstorm.
Requiem for a Gypsy is most certainly a complex, yet a deeply rewarding mystery, though one that relies — at times a bit too heavily — on the occurrence of a number of (apparently) coincidental factors and the (seemingly improbable) cooperation of multiple police departments spanning several national jurisdictions. A strong point in the story's favor is that the professional Jana has to pry information out of a disparate number of sources and solve this puzzle piece by piece. But it is the personal Jana that really makes the story rather unique. She greatly misses her granddaughter in the US, and when a young girl calls on her, cold and hungry, trying to sell her homemade earrings, she can't resist inviting her in and providing her with food and a warm place to stay for the night. The girl calls herself "Em", but Jana knows that isn't her real name. Soon the girl starts playing an unexpected part in Jana's investigation, much to her dismay and, she must admit, her relief, as Em seems to possess knowledge that can assist Jana to move her cases along. Still, Jana can't help but have mixed feelings about her, as indicated by this short passage:
The girl had found a chick, a weak spot in Jana's armor, a vulnerability that Jana wasn't quite able to protect. She kept asking herself why she was still hopefully standing on the edge of a cliff leading down to a big hurt when the girl had lied and manipulated her before and was doing it again.
The title apparently refers to yet another case Jana is working on, the accidental shooting of a young man, a gypsy, that Jana doesn't believe is quite as accidental as the witnesses claim it to be. There is no direct — or even indirect — link between this case and the others, but there are symbolic parallels between them.
Acknowledgment: Soho Press provided an ARC of Requiem for a Gypsy for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The Magician's Accomplice
Soho Crime (Hardcover), July 2010
ISBN-13: 9781569476260; ISBN-10: 1569476268
Location(s) referenced in Requiem for a Gypsy: Bratislava, Slovakia; Vienna, Austria; Berlin, Germany; Paris, France
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Requiem for a Gypsy by Michael Genelin — A Commander Jana Matinova Mystery
Publisher: Soho Crime
Publication Date: July 2011
List Price: $25.00