Review: Death Can't Take a Joke by Anya Lipska

Monday 15 June 2015
Title: Death Can't Take a Joke
Author: Anya Lipska
Publisher: 27th March 2014
Publication Date: The Friday Project
Pages: 400
ISBN: 9780007524402
Source: Purchased
Rating: 5/5
Purchase: Amazon
When masked men brutally stab one of his closest friends to death, Janusz Kiszka – fixer to East London’s Poles – must dig deep into London’s criminal underbelly to track down the killers and deliver justice.

Shadowing a beautiful Ukrainian girl he believes could solve the mystery, Kiszka soon finds himself skating dangerously close to her ruthless ‘businessman’ boyfriend. Meanwhile, his old nemesis, rookie police detective Natalie Kershaw is struggling to identify a mystery suicide, a Pole who jumped off the top of Canary Wharf Tower. But all is not what it seems…

Sparks fly as Kiszka and Kershaw’s paths cross for a second time, but they must call a truce when their separate investigations call for a journey to Poland’s wintry eastern borders...

I'm going to try not to rush this review because I really want to start reading book three and what can I say about the book that hasn't been said already? I recently read Where the Devil Can't Go and immediately started reading Death Can't Take a Joke when I finished it because it was such an enjoyable read with two fantastic main characters in Janusz Kiska and Natalie Kershaw.

Anya Lipska doesn't mess around and kicks off the story straightaway, creating a real sense of intrigue and mystery with two deaths to get us thinking right at the start of the book. Detective Kershaw witnesses a suicide from the top of a Canary Wharf tower and somehow once again her investigations lead her to fixer to East London's Polish community, Janusz Kiszka. Janusz has problems of his own however as one of his closest friends has been stabbed to death on his own doorstep. Janusz and Kershaw must travel to Poland in their quest to find answers to both of these cases.

In the past I have had the spoiler police on my back, but I do find it difficult to discuss books without talking about the plot in some way. There are a number of characters I would like to discuss but I suppose one that stands out is a mysterious femme fatale, Varenka, who Janusz witnesses leaving flowers outside his friend's home and of course ends up following in search of answers. He does seem to be a magnet for trouble, and so he soon finds himself in a lot of danger, but he does have that fierce determination for justice that makes him a lot of fun to read about, and somebody that you would definitely want on your side. Also returning and playing a large role in the story is his best friend Oskar who might even be more of a favourite character for me than Kershaw (I'd say Janusz is my favourite). Together they are brilliant, with some much needed comedic scenes but this time around with some more serious ones too. I enjoy how natural their partnership feels, a friendship that is really believable and how natural the comedy is also. It's a very tricky thing to master in crime fiction, yet Anya certainly has.

Speaking of partnerships it was fascinating to witness the change in Janusz and Kershaw in this book, especially in terms of how they view each other. I know, don't give too much away but there's almost a kind of friendship there now but still with some wariness from both parties. I do enjoy their scenes together, especially when they must travel to Poland as a duo and that's where the wariness comes into play, with one of them having to decide whether to share what they have discovered about the case or not... Now, Natalie Kershaw could perhaps be described as somewhat of a maverick cop, and she is definitely one who very rarely thinks things through before going ahead and doing them. And crime fiction connoisseurs know that usually only ends up one way. I did find myself wanting to shout at my Kindle with some of the decisions she was making, seeing the danger coming before she did, but at the same time it did create some real tension and suspense, and as her investigation nears its thrilling conclusion, it was a really exciting read. Anya Lipska knows exactly how to captivate a reader, and even made me abandon my afternoon nap after being up since 4am. I just had to see how the story would conclude.

In terms of twists this book certainly has them with a couple in particular that have me wanting to reread the book to see whether the clues were always there! And there's more after that, I probably shouldn't laugh at Janusz but I'm going to anyway (it will make sense when you read). Once again everything about the book felt extremely authentic, Anya clearly having done her research and I enjoyed the use of Polish words and phrases throughout which just fit into the narrative perfectly. This is a really exciting new (to me!) series and one that I very highly recommend to anybody else who is yet to discover it.


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