Friday, August 8, 2014
"The Bridge of Sighs", by Olen Steinhauer
This unique portrayal begins in 1948 and captures the life and crime of a small Eastern Country (Unnamed) after the Russians liberated it from the German Occupation. The people continue to struggle with rebuilding and coming to terms with their destiny. There are suspicious of their liberators and their Communist ideology. We are into a volatile terrain throughout this auspicious crime novel.
I am a huge fan of the Milo Weaver series so it is of no surprise my curiosity brought me to his debut novel written in 2003 which introduced 22 year old Emil Brod as homicide inspector of the People‘s Militia as the protagonist. Emil spent the war working on a fishing boat in Finland and finally gets his chance to serve his country investigating murders. This is his first outing in a series of 5 installments so far.
This not an easy read. The depiction of broken people who survive the Nazi to only find themselves in the clutch of the Russians is a hard story to take and follow. This book has a repressive atmosphere: highlighting corruption, the starvation, the violence, etc. all the while seeing the protagonist (a rookie) trying to find his way through the maze of intrigue, cruelty and ugliness in order to investigate and solve his cases.
I had trouble concentrating and keeping up with this blend of police procedural, political treatise and love story. My mind kept on wandering and I never could grasp the essence of all what was going on. There was something in the style that didn't agree with me, the narrative did not pique my interest and I fast lost interest. The plot was rather weak IMO and I could easily predict the outcome from the get-go. It was a rough read and I am surprise I actually made it to the ending. Maybe it is better to set our mind that this novel is not some frolic in escapism but rather about Soviet repression….
Many have enjoyed this novel immensely seems I may I missed the boat on this one altogether.