The Bridge of Sighs: A Novel Paperback – Feb 12 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
In 1948, in a small, unnamed Eastern European country, homicide detective Emil Brod has been assigned a case that no one wants him to solve. To make matters worse, he's only 22 years old, this is his first case in the People's Militia, and his colleagues think he's a spy. The victim, a state songwriter, appears to have been blackmailing a politicos, a man formerly known as Smerdyakov the Butcher who has connections to the highest levels of the state and a past that includes wartime atrocities for the Nazis and then the Russians. In his attempt to uncover the truth, Brod soon finds himself battling a host of obstacles (including the murder of his best witness). At the same time, he finds himself attracted to the songwriter's wife, who becomes his lover and a possible victim herself. This is an intelligent, finely polished debut, loaded with atmospheric detail that effortlessly re-creates the rubble-strewn streets of the postwar period in an Eastern state "liberated" from German occupation by the Russians. Highly recommended for mystery collections.
Ronnie H. Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I thought the Tourist was hard to get into at first, but this one is harder still, - I was in around page 65 before it got me hooked.
Its a cop/crime story set in and around 1948 at the end of the war, and gets embroiled in the politics and poverty of eastern Europe at the time.
I found it overall a good read, and am encouraged to try the next in the series.
THE BRIDGE OF SIGHS is a period piece historical novel with a major strength being the descriptions of the locale- the exact location of which is unknown. Characters almost play a supporting role to their surroundings. The author keeps things in proper perspective, however, as the plot moves quickly to its clever ending. With the strong reliance on the almost unbearable oppression of the people, one immediately recalls the historical dramas of J. Robert Janes and LIE IN THE DARK by Dan Fesperman. Very well done.
In a nutshell, this is a wonderful by-the-book detective story, though the by-the-book-ness is perhaps its weakest point. The story has been told a million times before -- the woman in trouble, the corrupt official, the hero going through the ringer before overcoming the villain. I just wish Steinhauer would have gone slightly off the formula to keep it a bit fresher.
But that's a very minor complaint. This is a superbly novel with identifiable, realistic characters and a plot that just keeps on moving. Steinhauer can flat-out write: look for a tightly constructed chapter near the middle of the book where he intercuts a flashback (Brod's fight with his arch enemy aboard the ship) and present-day action (a hooker trying to get Brod's attention). Artful, beautiful, perfect.
Should they be grateful to their Russian "Liberators" who saved them from the terrifying hands of Nazi storm troopers? Or should they be suspicious of their liberators when they see promises being broken, living conditions becoming worse every day and the sickle of Communism cutting a swath through their already meager existence? These citizens of Everyland experienced the Iron Curtain and all the secrets that lay behind it; many are still struggling with the aftermath of their "liberation" fifty years later.
On his first day as a homicide detective, 22 year-old Emil Brod felt misplaced. Freshly starched uniform, highly polished shoes and naiveté just did not fit in with the rumpled and wrinkled regulars sitting around the dingy squad room of the People's Militia. His various attempts to become acquainted with his fellow inspectors got him nothing but pointedly ignored, verbally threatened and literally hit hard below the belt.
Being a police detective is a tough job under the best of circumstances and seldom do they get to work under the best of circumstances. From Dirty Harry and his conflicts with the politically motivated Captain to Andy Sipowitz being dragged kicking and screaming into political correctness, it's definitely a challenging job.Read more ›
In this setting of scarcity and political opression, his first case is the murder of a prominent writer of patriotic songs. The motive is murky, as are some suspicious photos he finds hidden in the songwriter's apartment. As the investigation progresses and apparently leads toward powerful people, he has to decide whether or not his colleagues are trustworthy, and just how far he wants to pursue the case. Further complicating matters is his attraction to the songwriter's rich, estranged wife, who reminds him of the beauty and comforts he briefly glimpsed in the West.
The main plotline of "dark secrets at the highest levels" is not particularly original, nor is the inspector's affair with the wife, however Steinhauer does an excellent job of putting everything together in crisp prose and a compelling setting. The country's atmosphere of suspicion and tension are captured very effectively, and Brod is a convincing novice inspector, lurching across the landscape in his quest for the truth. He's a policeman with a lot of guilt, pain, and ambivalence, but without the world-weariness often prevalent in such characters. Those who like Alan Furst's work, or Philip Kerr's "Berlin Noir" trilogy, or Pavel Kohout's "The Widow Killer" should all enjoy this dark debut.
Most recent customer reviews
Book 1, in the Emil Brod series
This unique portrayal begins in 1948 and captures the life and crime of a small Eastern Country (Unnamed) after the Russians liberated it... Read more
A not altogether convincing murder mystery set in an unnamed Eastern block nation shortly after WW II. Our hero is the new guy in the pricinct, who lives with mom and dad. Read morePublished on Aug. 4 2003
There's already a couple of plot summaries here, so I won't add to the pile, except to say that THE BRIDGE OF SIGHS succeeds brilliantly in presenting a fresh new take in a genre... Read morePublished on Feb. 13 2003