The small, unnamed Eastern bloc country of Olen Steinhauer's debut novel The Bridge of Sighs is making its first tentative steps towards democracy. By command of the party chairman, the labour camps are being emptied of innocent civilians. The amnesty has begun.-But life isn't easy for the celebrated author, Ferenc Kolyeszar. He suffers from ...
The small, unnamed Eastern bloc country of Olen Steinhauer's debut novel The Bridge of Sighs is making its first tentative steps towards democracy. By command of the party chairman, the labour camps are being emptied of innocent civilians. The amnesty has begun.-But life isn't easy for the celebrated author, Ferenc Kolyeszar. He suffers from writer's block; the gnawing suspicion that his wife, Magda, is cheating on him with his best friend and partner, Stefan; and a malaise that has affected his day job as a homicide inspector. Then the artist Anton-n Kullmann is found dead, his arms and legs shattered, his body set on fire. It's an exceptionally brutal murder.-Peeling off the layers of deception and duplicity that surround the case, Ferenc discovers a secret that has ruined the lives of three men, and could ruin the lives of many more, particularly his own.-As the country moves from a tenuous democracy into an even more totalitarian state, Ferenc learns what it means to be betrayed, what it means to be the betrayer.
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Publishers Weekly, 2004-05-03 Ferenc Kolyeszar, the main character in this sharp tale of murder, political intrigue and human failings, is a large, disillusioned police inspector with a weakness for drink and cigarettes. Narrator Dean's naturally deep, gravelly voice works well in that context, but the rest of his performance is uneven. The novel takes place in an unnamed Eastern Bloc nation in 1956, and it centers on a series of converging discoveries by Kolyeszar and his colleagues. As Moscow asserts an increasing influence in the country, their office and their personal lives become charged with distrust and fear, a sense that becomes more pronounced as they draw closer to unveiling a dire secret. Dean has a clear sense of drama and narrative pacing, and he wisely steps back and allows Steinhauer (The Bridge of Sighs) to set the progressively nervy tone. But while he renders most of the male characters believably-albeit without much nuance-he struggles with females and with sustaining any voice that's said to have an idiosyncrasy. The production is spare and straightforward, but the engrossing story makes up for the recording's slight imperfections. Simultaneous release with the St. Martin's Minotaur hardcover (Forecasts, Dec. 1, 2003). (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly, 2003-12-01 Steinhauer's original and mesmerizing first mystery, 2002's The Bridge of Sighs, was set in 1949, in an unnamed East European country. Now it's 1956, and the homicide detective who starred in that first book-the young, hopeful Emil Brod-has become a dour and pragmatic secondary character as the promise of the immediate postwar years fades. Steinhauer focuses instead on another police officer, the looming Ferenc Kolyeszar, a huge man who wears on each finger a ring with a grisly history. Ferenc is a talented novelist, though his sole published book so far exists only as a tattered paperback. But the confession of the title is in fact the subject of his next book-a jarring and pessimistic work about the fate of artists, indeed of all human beings, in the Soviet-haunted satellite countries, where work camps in the 1950s rival those of the Stalinist Soviet Union. Haunted by his wife's infidelities and driven perversely into his own, Ferenc falls afoul of a smiling KGB agent named Kaminski who has been assigned to his office. Investigating several past and present murders, Ferenc digs a hole for himself that is both believable and inevitable. Bigger in scope and slower-moving than The Bridge of Sighs, with deaths and deceptions snowballing grotesquely, the novel makes readers wonder just what Steinhauer will do for the next book in his series-and how far into the future it will take his team of citizen cops. Agent, Matt Williams. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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