The Confession (2004)


FIRST CHAPTER - NOTES - GROUP GUIDE (PDF)

"...we can only marvel at the rumbling undertone of dread that Steinhauer builds around what appears to be a routine investigation of a suicide but turns out to be just the tip of a murderous political conspiracy." - Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

Starred reviews in all four pre-publication review journals - New York magazine: one of "The Best Novels You've Never Read"

Eastern Europe, 1956: Comrade Inspector Ferenc Kolyeszar, who is a proletariat writer in addition to his job as a state militia homicide detective, is a man on the brink. Estranged from his wife, whom he believes is cheating on him with one of his colleagues, and frustrated by writer's block, Ferenc's attention is focused on his job. But his job is growing increasingly political, something that makes him profoundly uncomfortable.

When Ferenc is asked to look into the disappearance of a party member's wife and learns some unsavory facts about their lives, the absurdity of his position as an employee of the state is suddenly exposed. At the same time, he and his fellow militia officers are pressed into service policing a popular demonstration in the capital, one that Ferenc might rather be participating in. These two situations, coupled with an investigation into the murder of a painter that leads them to a man recently released from the camps, brings Ferenc closer to danger than ever before-from himself, from his superiors, from the capital's shadowy criminal element.

 

RECEPTION

[A] first-rate thriller...Set in a beautifully realised, fictional Eastern European state in 1956. ...elegant...this is a powerful, thought-provoking literary thriller in the mould of Philip Kerr's Berlin Noir trilogy. I hope it is the second in a good, long series.

--Toby Clements, the Daily Telegraph

Steinhauer's bold follow-up to The Bridge of Sighs is simply brilliant. It is not your usual police procedural but a well-crafted mystery that mixes murder and political intrigue with the human element.

--Scott R. DiMarco, Library Journal (audio review)

Ferenc himself is so humanly contradictory we are drawn to him immediately ... and around him are all the staples of the Cold War thriller: secret policemen, informers, rendezvous in nameless bars. But Steinhauer takes his familiar material and brilliantly infuses it with noirish twists and dark psychology to make this second in a planned series utterly compelling. --TimeOut

"Steinhauer successfully conjures up the grey, dehumanised world of a nascent communist state, which provides a suitably chilling backdrop to his hero's quest to unearth a secret that threatens to ruin the lives of many." -- The Daily Mail

"Here's an elegant excursion into unknown territory. ... Ferenc's dogged independence and often morose refusal to mind his Ps and Qs is redolent of Martin Cruz Smith's hero in Gorky Park, but this is a different time, with entirely different priorities. ... This skilful confession often makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up." --Matthew Lewin, The Guardian

"[The] plot ... has more twists than a plate of fusilli and enough characters to fill the next three books in the series. ... "The Confession" is about much more than murder. ... [it] is a clever reworking of the police procedural: The narrative-within-a-narrative exposes multiple levels of complicity and guilt that make this an affecting, sobering entry in one of the most inventive series around." --Paula L. Woods, Los Angeles Times

"ambitious in scope and action" --Dick Adler, Chicago Tribune

"... mesmerizing and richly atmospheric ... meticulously researched ... entertainingly captures the fear and frustration of a 'society of discontent'..." --Michelle Kung, Entertainment Weekly

With The Confession, this series ... [promises] to turn its author's potential into a firmly entrenched and thriving career. ... Steinhauer's world is a dynamic one, and his beautiful prose paints a heartbreaking portrait of a country in flux. --Sarah Weinman, in The Rap Sheet

"Steinhauer is a terrific writer ... searing and insightful ..." --David Forsmark, the Flint Journal

"... awfully good ... [Steinhauer] skilfully makes you feel as if he was there in '56, as if he knows. ... I always wanted to know what happened." --Andi Shechter, Reviewing the Evidence

"Postwar Eastern Europe chillingly evoked by a storyteller ... who understands the relentless conjunction between character and suspense.... Good enough to suggest comparison with Graham Greene; place the author in the forefront of contemporary suspense writers..." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"This is a gripping and fully realized portrayal of a man whose strengths, flaws, struggle, and ultimate fall are emblematic of the fate of Eastern Europe itself. While skillfully developed, the intricacies of plot, particularly the story behind the diverse crimes, fade to relative insignificance in light of Ferenc's heartrending 'confession'. Densely atmospheric and strongly recommended..." --Ronnie H. Terpening, Library Journal (starred review)

"Beyond delivering an involving police procedural in an intriguing setting, the author relates with spare irony his narrator's psychological journey.... [The Confession] is enthusiastically recommended for fans of well-made hard-boiled and noir fiction." --David Wright, Booklist (starred review)

"Bigger in scope... than The Bridge of Sighs [...Steinhauer's original and mesmerizing first mystery]... the novel makes readers wonder just what Steinhauer will do for the next book in his series..." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"[A] sharp tale of murder, political intrigue and human failings..." Publishers Weekly (audio review)