Death Can't Take a Joke
PublisherThe Friday Project
Date Published27 March 2014
Price£ 7.99

Death Can't Take A Joke

by Anya Lipska

Polish fixer Janusz Kiszka and DC Natalie Kershaw butt heads again on the mean streets of east London as he tries to find out who’s murdered a close friend, and she’s investigating a tower block suicide.


I admit freely to needing some persuasion from the late and much-missed reviewer Maxine Clarke before reading Where the Devil Can’t Go, Anya Lipska’s first novel. After all, the damn thing was self-published. But, heavens to Betsy, it was one of the few exceptions to the ‘don’t touch with a bargepole’ rule – someone had obviously edited it and designed a decent cover. So it wasn’t much of a surprise when a mainstream publisher came calling.

And I can confirm that Death Can’t Take a Joke is just as good a read as its predecessor. Lipska has found a thoroughly novel twist on the PI v police procedural tale with her Polish fixer Janusz Kiszka and stroppy young cop DC Natalie Kershaw.

Their paths cross again on east London’s mean streets. Kiszka is investigating the murder of one of his best friends; Kershaw wants to find out why a Polish guy jumped off a Canary Wharf tower block. Throw in an enigmatic Ukrainian woman, a dodgy businessman and a mystery trip for our two heroes to Poland, and you have a damn good story.

Lipska’s strengths are her sharp, edgy prose, and creating characters you really believe in and want to get to know better. Kershaw’s fine, but it really is Kiszka who steals the show again. He’s an oddly courtly figure who can mix it when he needs to. And he’s a dab hand in the kitchen as well with traditional Polish dishes! I also have a soft spot a mile wide for his eccentric friend Oskar who means well, but who could find trouble in an empty room …

Death Can’t Take a Joke is well-plotted, tense, topical and contains more than a few surprises. It’s a great addition to what I hope will be a long-running series.  And, thanks to Lipska, my collection of Polish swearwords is increasing considerably. I promise not to practise them on the poor, unsuspecting postman!

Reviewed 27 December 2014 by Sharon Wheeler