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Welcome to “Przekrój”!

In case you’re wondering where you are, and especially since you probably can’t pronounce the name of this website, here’s a little help—“Przekrój” (pronounced “p-SHEH-crooy”) is the oldest society and culture magazine in Poland, now available in English.

“Przekrój” Magazine brings English-speaking readers some of the best journalism from across Central and Eastern Europe, in the fields of wellbeing, art, literature, science, ecology, philosophy, psychology, and more. Take a break from the speed and intensity of the daily news and join us!

Upon arriving at the Europejski Hotel, Lieutenant Maciejewski is faced with a mystery involving forgotten ...
2018-12-05 10:00:00
Trouble Suited Her
Trouble Suited Her

She was angelically attractive. And devilishly distraught. When Lt Maciejewski came to the door of her apartment in the Europejski Hotel, he discreetly wiped the muddy toe of his shoe on the back of his cuff.

“I’ve been called to broken safes before,” he said, kissing her perfumed hand. “But this is the first safe I’ve seen so tightly closed.”

She smiled. She kept her distance; she was a lady. She had been described in a similar tone – though much more crudely – by Detective Zielny when he referred the matter to the lieutenant. Orally, because it wouldn’t do at all to put it in an official report.

The day before in this very same suite, the minister of internal affairs himself had made an incognito stay. Whoever he met, for business or pleasure, is none of our business. Unfortunately, when leaving, he forgot to take from the safe the folder of state documents, and the secretary sent for them had obviously written down the wrong combination.

Zielny asked naively whether it wouldn’t be better to call the minister. But the bombshell emissary calmly and patiently explained to the plainclothesman – like a good teacher to the class dunce – that he didn’t understand the gravity of the situation. First, the minister’s documents weren’t supposed to be in a hotel safe at all, so if journalists were to catch a whiff of something… Second, she personally wouldn’t wish on the detective the consequences of the minister hearing that someone else knew the secret of his unfortunate negligence. But also third, upon receiving the documents, he would certainly ask for the name of the officers who had treated the law with understanding, and would be appropriately thankful.

“Please don’t worry, the safe will be handled by an experienced and discreet professional.” Maciejewski once again kissed the hand that was like something from a painting. They sat so close together on the sofa that the lieutenant felt a current of electricity. “I had the pleasure of meeting Minister Raczkiewicz when I received the citation for catching the Uhrusk Strangler. You weren’t working in his office yet?”

In fact, she said, she had taken up her current position and seen the minister for the first time only in January that year, but he had immediately welcomed her with great trust. Maciejewski understood the minister; blue eyes like hers could never lie. And he would gladly have spoken with her longer, but there was a knock at the door and an older gentleman in a bow tie entered, laden with a bag of rattling metal tools.

“My compliments, madame. Myszkowski, a retired thief.” He bowed and set to work.

Amused by the pleasant conversation, the lady explained to the lieutenant that Minister Rackiewicz was still a bachelor, and most likely the policeman was dealing with the future Mrs Rackiewicz. Maciejewski wished to express his regret that it wasn’t Mrs Maciejewski, but at that moment the bolt clicked softly and the safe door swung open. Inside they saw a bundle of documents, tied together with twine.

“Yes, these are the documents, I recognize them!” Pleased, the secretary stood up from the sofa. “He used to tie presents up the same way – I remember from the Ministry’s Christmas party.”

Maciejewski also stood up, lifting the delicate hand to his trembling lips and… with a practised move, slapped a handcuff onto it. Mr Myszkowski bowed as if nothing out the ordinary were happening, slipping unnoticed out of the room.

“How did you know I was a foreign agent?” the femme fatale asked pleasantly, not losing a drop of her charm.

“For three reasons, madame,” the courtly lieutenant replied.

They were:

1. …………………,

2. ……………………………………,

3. ………………………………………………….*

* Fill in with invisible ink.



Reveal the answer

ANSWERS: 1. According to the statement, the documents were supposed to be in a folder, but they were tied together with twine. 2. It’s not the proofreader of “Przekrój”, but our heroine who mixed up the minister’s name, calling him Rackiewicz instead of Raczkiewicz. 3. Since the supposed secretary had met the minister for the first time in January, she couldn’t have been at the ministry’s Christmas party. As they still teach today at the Lubyanka: you have to know how to drink, and also how to lie.


Translated from the Polish by Nathaniel Espino

This text was translated from Polish, thanks to which we can reach readers outside of Poland. If you enjoy what we do and would like to keep accessing journalism from Central and Eastern Europe, please support PRZEKRÓJ Foundation and help us develop the English version of our website.

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Marcin Wroński

is a writer who was born in 1972. In 2017, he marked the 25th anniversary of his writing career, even though for the first 15 years he was an archetypal example of failure. As a result, he planned to write a saga titled “Historia nieudaczności” [A History of Failure], but he even failed at that. Popularity (and a living from his writing) came to Wroński from his retro mystery series about Lt Maciejewski, beginning in 2007 with “Morderstwem pod cenzurą” [Censored Murder]. In 2014, his “Pogrom w przyszły wtorek” [Pogrom Next Tuesday] won all possible awards for Polish crime writers, including the High Calibre Prize. But he will still go down in the history of this honourable award as its longest and most-frequently nominated. The newest work in this series is “Czas Herkulesów” [Time of the Hercules] (2017), and for next year the writer is planning a collection of crime stories featuring its hero capping off his investigation. Apparently a decade-long string of successes has ruined the author’s nerves.