Given the struggles I’ve been having with my 5th book (I’ll blog about them later), it’s really wonderful to find that my 4th book, even so far in advance of its August publication, is getting noticed.
I’ve just pulled in two pre-publication reviews, from Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, and each has earned a “star”. This is a great relief, as Liberation Movements is rather different than the previous ones, which inevitably makes one a little insecure.
Forgive the blatant self-love here, I’m just very pleased.
(Starred Review) Steinhauer’s dazzling fourth book in his series about various police and intelligence agents in an unnamed Communist-era Eastern European country gives a large role to Brano Sev, the seriously conflicted spy who starred in the previous entry, 36 Yalta Boulevard (2005). Sev sums up the new book’s theme when he says to a younger subordinate, “Intelligence work is precisely what it says—it’s about intelligence. We are not murderers.” There’s some irony here: we know that Sev has killed several people himself. But there’s also an unexpected note of humanity, as Sev supervises the investigation by two junior agents of a murder in Russian-occupied Prague in 1968 that’s later tied to a plane hijacked by Armenian terrorists on its way to Istanbul in 1975. Another new element is the Turkish capital, alive and yeasty compared to the drab, restricted home city of 36 Yalta Boulevard. And the emergence of a major female character—a homicide investigator looking for personal justice—shows how a skilled writer working at the top of his form can keep a series from faltering. (Aug.)
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(Starred Review) This fourth entry in Steinhauer’s (The Bridge of Sighs) Eastern Bloc crime series deposits us in the late summer of 1968, as “the flowers of Prague’s spring” are being crushed by the Warsaw Pact’s invading tanks. In a nearby unnamed country, Brano Sev of the Ministry of State Security, the protagonist of 36 Yalta Boulevard, is now a colonel in his late fifties. He and his officers, Capt. Gavra Noukas and homicide inspector Katja Drdova, all have secrets to hide and a major crime to solve. Armenian hijackers have blown up an airplane en route to Istanbul, aboard which was a fellow officer of Armenian origin. Was the Ministry involved in the plane’s destruction? Is there a connection to a crime committed seven years earlier? To find the answers, Gavra and Katja must confront their own demons. Using alternating time lines, reverse chronology, and disrupted sequence, Steinhauer again displays his masterful manipulation of character, plot, and reader expectations. Tightly entwined story lines, compact scenes that evoke a grim world while capturing character subtleties, and a style pared to the essential make this a fast, intriguing read. Highly recommended. - Ronnie H. Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson