Victory Square (The Yalta Boulevard Sequence #5)4.06 · Rating details · 528 Ratings · 44 Reviews
The revolutionary politics and chaotic history of life inside Olen Steinhauer's fictionalized Eastern European country have made his literary crime series, with its two Edgar Award nominations along with other critical acclaim, one of today's most acclaimed. Finally having reached the tumultuous 1980s, the series comes full circle as one of the earliest cases of the PeopleThe revolutionary politics and chaotic history of life inside Olen Steinhauer's fictionalized Eastern European country have made his literary crime series, with its two Edgar Award nominations along with other critical acclaim, one of today's most acclaimed. Finally having reached the tumultuous 1980s, the series comes full circle as one of the earliest cases of the People's Militia reemerges to torment all of the inspectors, including Emil Brod, now the chief, who was the original detective on the case. His arrest of one of the country's revolutionary leaders in the late 1940s resulted in the politician's conviction and imprisonment, but Emil was too young in those days to understand what it meant to go up against someone so powerful--and win. Only now, in 1989, when he is days from retirement and spends more time looking over his shoulder than ahead, does he realize that what he did may get him--and others--killed.
Told against the backdrop of the crumbling forty-year-old government--with the leaders who were so new in the series debut, The Bridge of Sighs--Victory Squareis Steinhauer at his best. Once again he masterfully makes crime fiction both personal and political, combining a story of revenge at any cost with a portrait of a country on the brink of collapse....more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published August 21st 2007 by Minotaur Books
The Vienna Assignment, by Olen Steinhauer (HarperCollins, £18.99)
How fascinating to see the iron curtain from the other side. It is 1966 and Major Brano Sev, 50, of the Ministry for State Security of an un-named Black Sea communist satellite state, has returned from a disastrous operation; he is stripped of his rank and sent as a comrade worker to a "people's factory". Five months later, he is given a new task - to join a group of dissidents about to flee the country illegally, and to find out what the Americans are up to in Vienna. Nothing, needless to say, goes to plan and the zbrka (a Serbian word meaning the confusion of too many things) gathers quickly around him. Sev has no personal conflicts, and is loyal to both communism and his state apparatus, and it is a huge tribute to the author's skills that we can both admire and root for Sev as he works his way through the clever plot of this beautifully written spy thriller.
The First Casualty, by Ben Elton (Bantam Press, £17.99 )
Ben Elton should stick to comic crime writing - this "historical thriller", set in the mud and blood of Flanders in 1917, is both ponderous and pompous, full of laboured prose, while the author loses no opportunity to shoehorn in every detail from his obviously thorough research. The preposterous plot revolves around police Inspector Douglas Kingsley, jailed for refusing to fight in an "illogical" war, who is sprung by the army because they need someone with his police experience to go to Belgium to find out who murdered a war hero, aristocrat and celebrated poet. What follows is a farrago of idiocy. What a shame this wasn't a comedy; then we could have laughed with it instead of at it.
Marker, by Robin Cook (Macmillan, £17.99 )
Dr Robin Cook virtually invented the medical thriller in the 1970s with Coma, which was turned into a film. He followed that with a further 22 medical thrillers, most of which were bestsellers. But now, unaccountably, he seems to have written Coma all over again. Once again we have a young woman doctor, Laurie Montgomery, who stumbles on an unaccountable series of medical mishaps. Again, no one believes her, and authority figures insist that she desists from her investigations. Even fellow medical examiner and lover Jack Stapleton is sceptical. And once again the intrepid doctor herself becomes a target for the bad guys, and it is all a question of whether Jack can catch on in time to save her. The glaring similarity to Coma is not the only disturbing thing about this book; the plot is so comprehensively telegraphed that even a casual watcher of Casualty or ER will have solved it by page 100. Alas, there are a further 430 pages to go.
Rage, by Jonathan Kellerman (Michael Joseph, £17.99)
A toddler is abducted, the CCTV later producing a chilling image of the child being escorted, just like James Bulger, out of a mall. Two boys kill the child, are caught and sentenced to long spells in juvenile prisons. But that doesn't stop the continuing trail of killings and perversions associated with the case. Fertile ground indeed for psychologist Dr Alex Delaware, who is, as usual, called in to help the cops when one of the boys is murdered shortly after his release from prison. A simple revenge killing? Or the result of complex layers of delusion and perversion in the mind of a particularly wicked perpetrator? Anyone who has read Kellerman will know that it is the latter, and that the journey to understanding will be a bumpy and unpredictable one, leading to a fairly gory climax. But if you really want insight into how ordinary young boys can become seriously wicked, read William Suffcliffe's stunning novel, Bad Influence, published last year.