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Death in Budapest Paperback – January 26, 2012
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About the Author
James L. Ross knows the Wall Street scene first-hand. A former journalist, he is the author under several names of short stories and novels, including 2011’s Long Pig. A new story, “Bears in Mind,” appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine in January 2012.
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Top customer reviews
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The narrator is an ex-banker, run out of New York after dealings that may or may not have been super shady. Working from the office of a friend in London, he hooks up with investors looking to put buy a factory to build heavy machinery for central and eastern Europe. As you would guess in a crime/murder thriller like this, a whole lot goes wrong. Bent Hungarian cops show up. So does (it seems) the CIA or similar US spooks. There is plenty of violence, with carefully described gun hardware and methods of killing.
The only real problem I had with the book is that it's _too much_ action, not enough character for me. That's a rare criticism to make, but it's how I felt reading it. I would have liked a little more of interesting people and a little less description of the nuts and bolts of gunfights.
However, if you like a murder/spy thriller it's a fun read. Some things about Hungary ring so true it's almost scary, the description of hiring a couple of non-English speaking Serbian hookers to act like part of the narrators ad-hoc family unit is both hilarious and spot-on. A good choice if you like this kind of book.
Characters are described effectively, motivations are interesting, and the complex political setup is plausible. Plus, the tale doesn't drag on and on, and doesn't descend into sadism despite the quite vast amount of violence. Scene after scene is delineated with painstaking detail that puts us right in the middle of each dangerous situation, feeling the threat to life. Well done.