Review: A Devil Under the Skin by Anya Lipska

Friday 19 June 2015
Title: A Devil Under the Skin
Author: Anya Lipska
Publisher: The Friday Project
Publication Date: 18th June 2015
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9780008100353
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 5/5
Purchase: Amazon
Things are looking up for Janusz Kiszka, big-hearted 'fixer' to London's Poles. His girlfriend/the love of his life, Kasia, is finally leaving her no-good husband to make a new life with him, and he’s on the brink of a deal to ensure their financial security for years to come.

Then Kasia vanishes – and the big Pole’s world is torn apart. Convinced she’s been abducted, he must swallow his pride and seek the help of an old contact – maverick cop Natalie Kershaw, who’s been suspended following a fatal shooting. But the search swiftly takes an even darker turn… What connects Kasia’s disappearance and a string of brutal East End murders? And who is the mysterious and murderous enforcer stalking the streets of London?

Meanwhile, time is running out for Kasia. To reach her, Kiszka must confront a gut-wrenching dilemma that will shape the rest of his life.

I am a new reader to Anya Lipska's work having recently read and reviewed Where the Devil Can't Go and Death Can't Take a Joke and having now read A Devil Under the Skin I am excited about how 'fresh' each book has felt even having read them so close together. I think some authors can very quickly become a bit samey in the type of stories that they write, but it seems Anya isn't one of them.

Janusz Kiska - fixer to East London's Poles - is about to move in with his lover Kasia, just as soon as she leaves her no-good husband. Before she can do that however, she disappears along with Steve, her husband. Kiszka starts some investigations of his own, running into endless dead ends. Distrusting of the police his whole life, even he knows his chances of finding Kasia alive will be improved with help from the authorities and so he turns to an old contact - maverick cop Natalie Kershaw who - naturally for Kershaw - is facing a couple of problems of her own. Namely, suspension from work following a fatal shooting. When Kasia's disappearance appears to have connections with a spate of brutal East End murders, Janusz and Kershaw have no idea just what, or who they are dealing with.

I liked the change of pace and story in A Devil Under the Skin; the mystery element this time around was especially gripping, reminiscent at times of one of my favourite authors, Tim Weaver. The continued character development of both Janusz and Kershaw is brilliant and theirs is a relationship that continues to intrigue, and leaves me wondering just whether anything will ever happen between them. After the events of Death Can't Take a Joke, Janusz now views Kershaw with something akin to respect, and I think he sometimes knows her better than she knows herself. After the shooting Kershaw is 'forced' to see a psychologist, and I think this is the moment she starts to discover things about herself that in the past she has refused to acknowledge. Both of these characters are just brilliant, I love reading about them and it's always intriguing to witness how they view and think about each other.

I said in my previous reviews how much I liked Janusz's best friend Oskar, and he makes a very welcome return in A Devil Under the Skin. Comedy in crime fiction is tricky, with only a few authors achieving a successful balance. Anya is one of those authors, portraying it very naturally and in a believable way, never letting it detract from everything else that is going on. The friendship between Oskar and Janusz is one of my favourite things about this series. I like how different they are, and the banter that they have but also how obvious it is that they clearly have an unbreakable bond. There are some terrific scenes between the two throughout this story.

I don't want to say too much about the story itself but - despite not being completely invested in the character of Kasia - I enjoyed following Janusz on his quest to save the supposed love of his life. It is an exciting and thrilling read, with a real feeling of menace throughout and some really fearsome bad guys. Anya Lipska always includes a number of twists and red herrings, and this time around has created enough unsavoury characters to keep most readers guessing throughout the story, and ends the whole thing quite brilliantly, leaving readers eager for more from Janusz and Kershaw. This series definitely has real scope to be long-running, and I hope the wait for more isn't too long.


1 comment:

  1. I must get into this series! I hear nothing but good things about it! So many books, so little time...!


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