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At the start of Edgar-finalist Steinhauer's fine fifth and final entry in his series set in an unnamed Eastern European Communist country (after 2006's Liberation Movements), homicide inspector Emil Brod, now chief of police and three days from retirement, reluctantly investigates the death of Lt. Gen. Yuri Kolev. Though Kolev apparently died of a heart attack, the coroner finds deadly levels of cocaine and heroin in his blood, and a flier in Kolev's car suggests he may have been murdered by members of an underground prodemocracy group. Soon Brod uncovers a wide-ranging plot involving old friends and enemies, all of whom are frantic to take advantage of the situation when their fellow citizens, inspired by the recent fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of governments in neighboring countries, rise up to overthrow their Communist leaders. Employing an intricate story, characters both sympathetic and despicable as well as a remarkable sense of place, Steinhauer subtly illuminates an unforgettable historical moment. (Aug.)
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*Starred Review* In the fifth and final installment of Steinhauer's masterful Eastern European series, the story is once again told by Emil Brod. In The Bridge of Sighs (2003), it was 1948 and he was an inexperienced 22-year-old inspector in the People's Militia; now, in 1989, he's a tired 64 and its chief. Like Brod, his unnamed country has grown old. And over the course of six days, as Brod's final case leads him back to his first, the government will falland the fight for the future may be over before it's begun. If previous books upped the narrative ante, depicting the trials of crime solving in an iron curtain country, this one goes all in: Brod must find out why his own name is on a hit list while dodging riots, road closures, and sniper fire. This is remarkable storytelling, exploring the life cycle of a state through the eyes of political idealists, government informants, and good cops like Brod who just want to solve crimes. Steinhauer also offers a convincing portrait of the psychological shock that accompanies the downfall of even a hated dictator. Totalitarianism may have been intolerable, but as we see today in the countries of the former Soviet bloc, uncertain times can make citizens nostalgic for known evils. Graff, KeirSee all Product Description