Who Has Buried the Dead by K.G.E. Konkel is a page turning historical fiction thriller that explores the hidden connections between mathematics, war, and espionage found in one of history’s greatest kept secrets.
Konkel’s semi fictional Who Has Buried the Dead follows the lives of several figures — some real, some invented — involved with a mysterious document known as the Scottish Book, a legendary notebook of unsolved problems that was kept in a café in Lwow, Poland. When the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, the book disappears and the mathematicians who contributed to it flee to different parts of the world. Their fates are intertwined with the secrets of Katyn, a forest where thousands of Polish officers were massacred by the Soviets, among other mysterious affairs kept outside of the public eye. Using largely verified (however undisclosed) facts, the book speculates on a myriad of questions, such as what is truly contained within the Scottish book, why it has been kept such a deadly secret for so long, and what implications it might pose for today’s global politics.

Konkel masterfully weaves together historical facts and fictional elements to create a compelling story that keeps the reader hooked until the end. The book is well-researched and rich in historical detail, but also fast-paced and suspenseful. There is also clear indication that the conspiracies about which Konkel is writing have implications for the present-day conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Presumably from a desire to preserve as much of the truth as possible, Konkel minimizes the amount of dialogue in the book, which is impressive as he manages to maintain an engaging pace in spite of it.

A truly standout feature of the book is the fact that instead of trying to convince the reader of its truth, the book sets out to capture the reader’s interest and ignite within them a desire to seek the truth for themselves. In its own way, the book also serves as a tribute to the mathematicians who contributed to the Scottish Book and the history of mathematics. Konkel shows how their work was influenced by the political and social turmoil of their time, and how their legacy lives on in the modern world. These characters, in addition to the many others who show up in the book, manage to carry a captivating air of humanity, adding depth and interest to the plot.

Who Has Buried the Dead is a revelation in more than one sense of the word; its mystique will leave you hungry to discover the other hidden connections that shape our world.