A couple great reviews surfaced this past week, the first one from Dick Adler over at the Chicago Tribune. The great compliment was that it was the headline review—clocking in at one-and-a-half web pages—and went into great depth about 36 Yalta Boulevard, using quotations from the book—luckily, passages that I wouldn’t be embarrassed about anyone reprinting.
As a writer, I look for two things in reviews: 1) Criticism and 2) Blurbs. The interesting thing about Dick’s review, lengthy as it was, was that it gave me neither. While it gave a kind of criticism—that is, “criticism” which is aimed at understanding the book—it said not a bad word about the book. But neither did it give any lines that could be excerpted and pasted on the back cover (except for “fascinating and original” to describe the series as a whole) of Yalta. Nothing like, “the best literary puzzle since The DaVinci Code” or “mouth-wateringly delicious!”
I’ve said before that what I like most about reviews is the sense that the reviewer gets what I’m doing, and for that reason, if no other, I love Dick’s review of Yalta, as well as his reviews of my previous books. He says in one part,
As the complicated story unwinds, the sad, inventive survivors of the exile community in Vienna give Steinhauer the chance to do what he does best: produce ironic truths about recent history.
the other great reviewPowells.comEsquire Magazine
Thirty-Six Yalta Boulevard, like its namesake, is full of tricks; it is a brainy thriller motored by stylishness and brevity. Steinhauer evokes the baroque, bureaucratic nature of the Ministry without choking his readers on it, and he can render it humorous without being satirical. His characters, too, are subtle and biting. They are lonely and at risk, but they are beholden to a world more vast, secretive and calculating than they could imagine. That is comfort of a kind.