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The Confession (Eastern Europe Thrillers) Hardcover – March 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Steinhauer's original and mesmerizing first mystery, 2002's The Bridge of Sighs, was set in 1949, in an unnamed East European country. Now it's 1956, and the homicide detective who starred in that first book-the young, hopeful Emil Brod-has become a dour and pragmatic secondary character as the promise of the immediate postwar years fades. Steinhauer focuses instead on another police officer, the looming Ferenc Kolyeszar, a huge man who wears on each finger a ring with a grisly history. Ferenc is a talented novelist, though his sole published book so far exists only as a tattered paperback. But the confession of the title is in fact the subject of his next book-a jarring and pessimistic work about the fate of artists, indeed of all human beings, in the Soviet-haunted satellite countries, where work camps in the 1950s rival those of the Stalinist Soviet Union. Haunted by his wife's infidelities and driven perversely into his own, Ferenc falls afoul of a smiling KGB agent named Kaminski who has been assigned to his office. Investigating several past and present murders, Ferenc digs a hole for himself that is both believable and inevitable. Bigger in scope and slower-moving than The Bridge of Sighs, with deaths and deceptions snowballing grotesquely, the novel makes readers wonder just what Steinhauer will do for the next book in his series-and how far into the future it will take his team of citizen cops.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In 1956 Khrushchev denounces Stalinism. Amid the heady optimism of short-lived strikes and protests, a general amnesty for political prisoners is declared, and old injustices are roused as vengeful retributions. Down at People's Militia Headquarters, Inspector Ferenc Kolyeszar is faced with an apparent suicide, the missing wife of a prominent Party member, a charred and brutalized corpse, and the watchful eyes of a newly arrived official from Moscow. Then there's the imminent collapse of his marriage: an old friend and fellow officer appears to be cuckolding him, while Ferenc nurses some latent obsessions of his own, sexual and otherwise. The story of a troubled homicide detective wrestling with internal and external demons is hardly new, but seldom is it presented with such depth and personal intensity. Beyond delivering an involving police procedural in an intriguing setting, the author relates with spare irony his narrator's psychological journey through the vexatious complexities of marriage and totalitarian life, drawn toward the deceptive clarity of brutal action. This second installment in a loosely linked series (following last year's Bridge of Sighs) is enthusiastically recommended for fans of well-made hard-boiled and noir fiction. David Wright
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Series: Eastern Europe Thrillers (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1 edition (March 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312303289
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312303280
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,481,609 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Olen Steinhauer grew up in Virginia, and has since lived in Georgia, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Texas, California, Massachusetts, and New York. Outside the US, he's lived in Croatia (when it was called Yugoslavia), the Czech Republic and Italy. He also spent a year in Romania on a Fulbright grant, an experience that helped inspire his first five books. He now lives in Hungary with his wife and daughter.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sandy Steele on March 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Steinhauer's latest novel, The Confession, proves that his first critically acclaimed novel Bridge of Sighs was neither an accident nor a flash in the pan. With his second mystery based in communist-era eastern Europe, Steinhauer displays his continuing growth as a novelist, and his considerable ability to mix the psychological tension of his characters, and plot. The emotional backdrop of the story is the deteriorating marriage of his main charcter Comrade Inspector Ferenc Kolyeszar, and all the angst, betrayal, paranoia, and helplessness that comes along with this. While Kolyeszar struggles to learn the identity of his wife's lover, he takes up the case of a murdered artist. The keynote crime in Steinhauer's first novel was the killing of a proletarian songwriter. That the deaths of a social realist art dealer, painter, and the painter's former lover form the core of this mystery is great fun, and allows Steinhauer to explore of of literature's most compelling themes: the mercilessness of art, and flawed, complex nature of the world's most prevalent form of justice -- vengeance. The Confession is multi-layered, but Steinhauer skilfully balances these subplots and cleverly brings them together at the story's fascinating conclusion. A rarity among mystery writers, Steinhauer is both a gifted writer and storyteller. He has created a corking mystery peopled by extraordinary and rare characters. His prose is eloquent and stiletto sharp. As another Amazon reviewer has pointed out, Kolyeszar's alienated and defiant posture in this mystery is not new to the crime genre. But Kolyeszar is a fresh face, and impressively real. Nothing he does in The Confession is anticipated. Like the very best novelists Steinhauer constantly surprises.Read more ›
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on March 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Now turning thirty, seven years has passed since an idealistic Emil Brod joined the police force as a Comrade Homicide Detective, but now by 1956 he is like his peers, grim and ever looking over his shoulders at the KGB representative. Emil has learned survival means trust no one and gingerly investigate whenever the Party is involved.
Meanwhile Police Officer Ferenc Kolyeszar prefers to be a novelist, but in this small Communist nation getting anything published is controlled by the Party. Though Ferenc has talent his résumé shows one paperback. Now he writes a book about the depressing world of artists representing Everyman behind the Iron Curtain. Any creativity typically leads to work camps that even in the post Stalin era remains dehumanizing and deadly. Besides the censorship that haunts Ferenc, he suffers remorse over a recent assignment involving college students. As he investigates the murder of a party bureaucrat, KGB agent Kaminski watches Ferenc looking forward to destroying the wannabe author.
This 1950s Communist police procedural is a terrific tale that provides the audience with insight into life inside a Soviet satellite country just after the death of Stalin. The strong story line surprisingly relegates the hero of the first novel (BRIDGE OF SIGHS) to a cynical secondary role. This allows comparison to Ferenc, a tragic Shakespearean character who knows that his latest case will personally cost him dearly; yet he cannot adapt to the party line especially after he carried out a recent assignment to bash the heads of protesting college students. This is a great Eastern European Communist historical police procedural that should provide Owen Steinhauer a strong fan base.
Harriet Klausner
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is an ambitious attempt to produce a combined psychological novel and Chandleresque mystery novel. As with all Chandler-type novels, the hero is an alienated individual seeking some kind of truth in a corrupt milieu. In this case, the corrupt milieu is an Eastern European Communist state. This is not an original version of the Chandler idea, Martin Cruz Smith did this fairly successfully in Gorky Park and Phillip Kerr has a series of good PI novels set in Nazi Germany. Steinhauer attempts to combine this style of mystery novel with psychological exploration of the effects of totalitarian rule. This attempt is not successful. Steinhauer is a decent writer but presently lacks the skill to bring off a complicated task like this. The mystery per se suffers from excessively complex plotting and characterization is only moderately good.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For me Steinhauer's series of book's started out great and slowly devolved to where I can no longer read them. This is one of the good ones. He evokes the cold war and eastern Europe better than any other author I know. Its this evocation that makes these books stay with you long after you've read them. The characters are full of the sad tragedy of their world but seem to rise above it all to become fully realized humans. Highly recommended.
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