A stunning debut novel - FATHERLAND meets Graham Greene in this noirish crime thriller The Second World War is over and among the millions of refugees, young Emil Brod returns to the capital city of his country to live with his grandparents and take up a job as a homicide inspector. His homeland has been annexed by the Soviet Union and they are ...
A stunning debut novel - FATHERLAND meets Graham Greene in this noirish crime thriller The Second World War is over and among the millions of refugees, young Emil Brod returns to the capital city of his country to live with his grandparents and take up a job as a homicide inspector. His homeland has been annexed by the Soviet Union and they are now part of the Eastern Bloc. Life is different - Russian soldiers swagger about, the luxuries of life are in short supply, everyone is careful to address their friends as Comrade. Emil's colleagues appear to loath him and he is utterly shut out. The hatred of his workmates even turns to violence. Frustrated and desperate to work, Emil begs a case to work on and suddenly and surprisingly is assigned to the high profile murder of Janos Crowder, a popular and wealthy songwriter. But this case is a difficult one - its complex skeins lead right up to the Party Chairman himself and Emil has to decide between the truth and his own safety. And the beautiful, seductive Lena, Crowder's widow, complicates things further.
Good mystery, nice twist at end. Fascinating look at eastern European problems dealing with the transition from communism to democracy? Steinhauer paints a desperate landscape both of the country and of the insecurity and paranoia of the people. There is hope at the end, and a good chance that we'll see more of his astute observations in future books.
Publishers Weekly, 2003-01-20 Set in 1948 in a small, unnamed Eastern European country devastated by WWII and still occupied by Russian troops, Steinhauer's promising debut introduces 22-year-old homicide inspector Emil Brod of the People's Militia. Brod's police academy training has prepared him for neither the rude reception he receives from his homicide comrades nor the difficult and risky assignment handed him as his initiation. The brutal murder of a moderately successful writer of patriotic songs enmeshes the bewildered Brod in an investigation hampered by his inexperience and lack of support from above as well as by other forces unknown but soon felt. Brod's trial by fire takes him through city and village, from small bars and tenements to streetwalkers and party officials. Steinhauer deftly presents minor characters, while he richly renders the country's travails as war is followed by occupation, suspicion, corruption and betrayal. The trail of murder, blackmail and wartime secrets even leads Brod to a divided Berlin, where he observes the non-stop activity at Tempelhof Airport during the Allied airlift. Perhaps the novel's weakest element is the amorphous Brod, though his appeal grows as the story progresses. One looks forward to Brod's developing into a fully realized character in future books in the series. (Feb. 28) Forecast: Fans of J. Robert Janes (who provides a blurb) in particular and of mysteries with totalitarian regime backgrounds in general should appreciate the authenticity the author brings from his experience as a Fulbright Fellow in Romania. Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
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