Extract: #Rage by Zygmunt Miłoszewski @AmazonPub


All eyes are on famous prosecutor Teodor Szacki when he investigates a skeleton discovered at a construction site in the idyllic Polish city of Olsztyn. Old bones come as no shock to anyone in this part of Poland, but it turns out these remains are fresh, the flesh chemically removed.

Szacki questions the dead man’s wife, only to be left with a suspicion she’s hiding something. Then another victim surfaces—a violent husband, alive but maimed—giving rise to a theory: someone’s targeting domestic abusers. And as new clues bring the murderer closer to those Szacki holds dear, he begins to understand the terrible rage that drives people to murder.

From acclaimed Polish crime writer Zygmunt Miloszewski comes a gritty, atmospheric page-turner that poses the question, what drives a sane man to kill?


Imagine a child who has to hide from those he loves. He does everything other children do. He makes towers out of building blocks, crashes toy cars together, has his teddy bears hold conversations, and paints houses under a smiling sun. A kid like any other. But fear makes everything look different. The towers never tumble. The car crashes are more like gentle bumps than major collisions. The teddy bears converse in whispers. And the water in the paint jar rapidly turns to dirty gray sludge. The child is afraid to go change the water, and eventually all the paints are smeared with sludge. Every little house, every smiling sun, and every little tree comes out the same nasty black and blue.
Out in the Polish provinces, that’s the color of the Warmian landscape tonight.
The fading December light is too weak to pick out distinct shades. The sky, a wall of trees, a house at the edge of the woods, and a muddy meadow only differ by their depth of blackness. With each passing minute they progressively merge together, until finally the separate elements can no longer be seen.
It’s a monochromatic nocturne, bitterly cold and desolate.
It’s hard to believe that in this lifeless landscape, inside the black house, two people are alive—one of them only just, but the other so sharply and intensely that it’s agonizing. Sweating, panting, deafened by the thudding of his own blood pulsating in his ears, he is trying to overcome the pain in his muscles to finish the job as fast as possible.
He cannot ward off the thought that in the movies it always looks different, and that after the opening credits they should give a warning: “Ladies and gentlemen, be advised that in reality, committing murder demands bestial strength, physical coordination, and above all, perfect fitness. Don’t try this at home.”
Just holding on to the victim is a major feat. The body defends itself against death in all sorts of ways. It’s hard to call it a fight; it’s more like something in between convulsions and an epileptic fit—every muscle tenses, and it’s not at all the way they describe it in novels, where the victim gradually weakens. The nearer the end, the more forcefully the muscle cells try to use the last remnants of oxygen to liberate the body.
Which means you can’t let them have that oxygen, or it’ll start all over again. Which means it’s not enough to just hold on to the victim so they won’t break free; you’ve also got to choke them effectively. And hope the next jolting kick will be the last, and there’ll be no strength left for more.
But the victim seems to have an endless supply of strength. For the killer it’s the opposite—the sharp pain of his overstretched muscles is rising in his arms, his fingers are stiffening, starting to rebel. He can see them slowly slipping, second by second, from the sweat-soaked neck.
He’s sure he can’t do it. But just when he’s about to give up, the body suddenly stops moving in his hands. The victim’s eyes become the eyes of a corpse. He has seen too many of them in his life not to recognize that.
And yet he can’t remove his hands—he goes on strangling the dead body with all his might for a while longer. He knows he’s in the grip of hysteria, but he goes on squeezing, harder and harder, ignoring the pain in his hands and arms. Suddenly the larynx caves in disturbingly under his thumbs. Terrified, he loosens his grip.
He stands back and stares at the corpse lying at his feet. Seconds pass, then minutes. The longer he stands there, the more incapable he is of moving. Finally, he forces himself to pick up his coat from the back of a chair and pulls it over his shoulders. He keeps telling himself that if he doesn’t act quickly, his own corpse will soon be lying beside his victim’s on the floor. He’s surprised it hasn’t happened yet.
But on the other hand, isn’t that Prosecutor Teodor Szacki’s greatest wish right now?

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