From the author of New York Times bestseller The Tourist...
It's August, 1948, three years after the Russians "liberated" the nation from German Occupation. But the Red Army still patrols the capital's rubble-strewn streets, and the ideals of the Revolution are but memories. Twenty-two-year-old Detective Emil Brod finally gets his chance to serve his country, investigating murder for the People's Militia.
The first victim is a state songwriter, but the facts point to a political motive. Emil would like to investigate further, but his colleagues in Homicide are suspicious or silent: He is on his own in this new, dangerous world.
The Bridge of Sighs launches a unique series of crime novels featuring a cast of characters in an ever-evolving landscape, the politically volatile terrain of Eastern Europe in the second half of the 20th century.
The Bridge of Sighs is a 2004 Edgar Award Nominee for Best First Novel.
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.
I purchased this book after reading the author's two more recent titles, 'The Tourist' and 'The Nearest Exit'. This book and it's sequel are fine examples of detective fiction, with the twist that they are set in the immediate aftermath of WW2 behind the Iron Curtain. The main character is a typically flawed noir detective, but his baggage is unique in being political and temporal. The combination of the setting and the supporting cast that results along with this unique detective makes for a great read.
Good idea but ...
This book is a great idea of a new cop in one of the countries behind the almost new Iron Curtain that ends up being only OK. It is a pretty good story but you rarely have the intense feeling of being there. Neither the love story or the terror of the Soviets are convincing.
Love the mood
Like many, I got here through Tourism. Wasn’t sure whether the author’s spotlight on the cold war era would hold the same allure and drama. Well, like the reviews say - it’s one of the best books (series) that you’ve never read. The moral ambivalence that attracted me to Milo is all here as well, too. Read this first - and then follow the whole Yalta Boulevard Sequence. You’ll be transported to a special place.