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A look down the Capital's main avenue, circa 1962.

My professional writing career began with five novels that traced the history of an unnamed, fictional Eastern European country during its communist period, from 1948 until 1989, one book for each decade. The novels began as crime fiction, morphing gradually into espionage. The titles are, in order of publication:

The Bridge of Sighs
The Confession
36 Yalta Boulevard (The Vienna Assignment in the UK)
Liberation Movements (The Istanbul Variations in the UK)
Victory Square

One of the more common questions I get is whether or not I'm planning to return to this particular universe in any future books. The short answer is no, because I began the project in 2001 with the plan of writing five novels leading to the revolutions of 1989, and I accomplished that goal. However, some of the characters occasionally nag at me, and I feel a desire to fill in their stories. Brano Sev, for example, makes a brief appearance in The Tourist, and filling in why he ends up there would make an interesting story. Also, I've kicked around ideas for Emil Brod's wife, Lena, and her various secret jobs during the sixties.

When I'm not distracted by other projects (as I probably will be for years to come), I'll probably get back to the series in some way or another.

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The Bridge of Sighs (2003)


FIRST CHAPTER - NOTES - GROUP GUIDE (PDF)

"brilliant portrayal of an unnamed country in the aftermath of the Second World War... Bleak and uncompromising, this powerful novel grips from beginning to end." - Susana Yager, Sunday Telegraph

Finalist for 5 awards, including the Edgar Award for First Novel

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The Bridge of Sighs (2003)


FIRST CHAPTER - NOTES - GROUP GUIDE (PDF)

"brilliant portrayal of an unnamed country in the aftermath of the Second World War... Bleak and uncompromising, this powerful novel grips from beginning to end." - Susana Yager, Sunday Telegraph

Finalist for 5 awards, including the Edgar Award for First Novel

It's August, 1948, three years after the Russians "liberated" this small nation from German Occupation. But the Red Army still patrols the capital's rubble-strewn streets, and the ideals of the Revolution are but memories. Twenty-two-year-old Detective Emil Brod, an eager young man who spent the war working on a fishing boat in Finland, finally gets his chance to serve his country, investigating murder for the People's Militia. 

The victim in Emil's first case is a state songwriter, but the evidence seems to point toward a political motive. He would like to investigate further, but even in his naivete, he realizes that the police academy never prepared him for this peculiar post-war environment, in which his colleagues are suspicious or silent, where lawlessness and corruption are the rules of the city, and in which he's still expected to investigate a murder. He is truly on his own in this new, dangerous world. 

The Bridge of Sighs launches a unique series of crime novels featuring a dynamic cast of characters in an ever-evolving landscape, the politically volatile terrain of Eastern Europe in the second half of the 20th century.

RECEPTION

...a stunning and unique look at life and crime in a Soviet satellite nation.

--Paula L. Woods, Los Angeles Times

Everything that a listener could want is here: murder, political intrigue, blackmail, a love story, and a quality mystery...

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

Steinhauer spins out his story in clean and simple prose that gleam with authenticity and captures a uniquely East European spirit. ...gripping, subversive...

--Dick Adler, Chicago Tribune

...a wonderfully taut tale...This is a series I will follow with eagerness.

--Paul Skenazy, Washington Post

...original and mesmerizing...an intelligent, finely polished debut, loaded with atmospheric detail that effortlessly re-creates the rubble-strewn streets of the postwar period.... Highly recommended.

--Ronnie H. Terpening, Library Journal

...brilliant portrayal of an unnamed country in the aftermath of the Second World War... Bleak and uncompromising, this powerful novel grips from beginning to end.

--Susana Yager, Sunday Telegraph

Olen Steinhauer in The Bridge of Sighs has created a remarkable first novel ... featuring Emil Brod, who could turn out to be one of the finest crime fiction creations of 2003.

--The Halifax Chronicle-Herald

...thoughtful and impressive...

--The Guardian

Steinhauer captures the fatalism [of] ... Milan Kundera or Bohumil Hrabal, who actually lived through such totalitarian regimes. Despite this story being set 50 years in the past, the question at its heart is today as timely as it's ever been.

-- the News and Observer, Raleigh NC

The Bridge of Sighs is a richly atmospheric tale of one man's quixotix struggle to decipher the bleak enigma of postwar Eastern Europe. The intriguing young Inspector Brod is a character to remember.

--Dan Fesperman, author of Lie in the Dark

...a novel of intense vitality... Lots of humor, lots of threads and an ever-deepening mystery that is unique and a fine start for a very promising new author.

--J Robert Janes, author of Dollmaker

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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"

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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)

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36 Yalta Boulevard (aka The Vienna Assignment) (2005)


FIRST CHAPTER - NOTES - GROUP GUIDE (PDF) - REPORT ON BRANO SEV

"His people are real, the crimes genuine, and he is telling larger truths about that era, making it unusually accessible." David Halberstam, in the LA Times

"Best of 2005" lists: Booklist and The Chronicle Herald

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36 Yalta Boulevard (aka The Vienna Assignment) (2005)


FIRST CHAPTER - NOTES - GROUP GUIDE (PDF) - REPORT ON BRANO SEV

"His people are real, the crimes genuine, and he is telling larger truths about that era, making it unusually accessible." David Halberstam, in the LA Times

"Best of 2005" lists: Booklist and The Chronicle Herald

Olen Steinhauer’s first two novels, The Bridge of Sighs and The Confession,launched an acclaimed literary crime series set in post--World War II Eastern Europe. Now he takes his dynamic cast of characters into the shadowy political climate of the 1960s.

State Security Officer Brano Sev’s job is to do what his superiors ask, no matter what. Even if that means leaving his post to work the assembly line in a factory, fitting electrical wires into gauges. So when he gets a directive from his old bosses---the intimidating men above him at the Ministry of State Security, collectively known for the address of their headquarters on Yalta Boulevard, a windowless building consisting of blind offices and dark cells---he follows orders.

This time he is to resume his job in State Security and travel to the village of his birth in order to interrogate a potential defector. But when a villager turns up dead shortly after he arrives, Brano is framed for the murder. Again trusting his superiors, he assumes this is part of their plan and allows it to run its course, a decision that leads him into exile in Vienna, where he finally begins to ask questions.

The answers in 36 Yalta Boulevard, Olen Steinhauer’s tour-de-force political thriller, teach Comrade Brano Sev that loyalty to the cause might be the biggest crime of all.

 

RECEPTION

[A] fine novel of murder and espionage. ... Highly recommended.

--Vincent Banville, Irish Times

Perhaps the finest spy fiction of the year came from Olen Steinhauer [...] who trumped his sensational first novel, The Bridge of Sighs, with the equally mesmerizing The Confession, has produced in 36 Yalta Boulevard, a spy novel that deserves to stand alongside the best works of Ambler, Greene and LeCarre. He may very well be the best espionage novelist writing right now.

--Paul Fiander, Chronicle Herald (Canada--from 2 articles)

Steinhauer is a young American writer who spent time in Romania on a Fulbright listening closely to old stories of the worst of times, and he has now fashioned a precinct house all his own out of that world. ... His people are real, the crimes genuine, and he is telling larger truths about that era, making it unusually accessible.

--David Halberstam, in LA Times' "Favorite Books of 2005"

How fascinating to see the iron curtain from the other side. ... it is a huge tribute to the author's skills that we can both admire and root for Sev as he works his way through the clever plot of this beautifully written spy thriller.

--Matthew Lewin, The Guardian

Espionage novel is the height of intelligence...There was bound to be a line of pretenders to [Alan Furst's] throne, and one who has to be counted as a real contender is Olen Steinhauer. ... Steinhauer shows himself to be a master at plotting, with twist coiling upon twist, surprise on surprise. He is also very good at the kind of dialogue that appears to be open and above-board, but really hides shades of meaning. I found [The Vienna Assignment] exquisitely-written, full of well-drawn characters, and definitively explicated.

--Vincent Banville, Irish Examiner

Steinhauer's masterful thriller is high on atmosphere and suspense, bringing the Cold War back to life with a glimpse of life on the other side of the Iron Curtain. --Colin Patterson, Sunday Sun

If you like nothing better than a taut thriller in the vein of John Le Carre or Robert Ludlum, then add this book to your list of required reading.

--Anita Punton, The Herald Sun (Australia)

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.

--Anna Godbersen, Esquire

The Vienna Assignment adds that rare commodity, political sophistication, to the spy thriller while taking readers back to the Cold War's deep chill. ... Oh, what a lovely read.

--Robin Wallace-Crabbe, The Australian

The plots and counterplots are slowly revealed through Brano's tamped emotions, which render the charms of his love interest in Vienna oddly unnerving and his own brutal interrogations matter-of-fact. Indeed, more even than the swirl of hard-drinking émigrés in Vienna and the awful strictures of rural life back home and the strangely congenial symbiosis of watcher and watched, it is Brano who fascinates here. Le Carré's spies look almost floridly sentimental in comparison to this austere man, whose convictions carry him all the way to the subtle full stop of the book's last, quietly appalling moment. 

--P.G. Koch, The Houston Chronicle

They said the spy novel was dead after the Cold War ended. Olen Steinhauer proves them wrong with a brilliant work. (5 stars) 

--Ian Orchard, The Advertiser (Australia)

When people wonder, in a generation or two, what the Cold War was like and how we lived with it, especially in Eastern Europe, they can read 36 Yalta Boulevard. It's that reflective of the time, and that well written.... Steinhauer is a fine writer who not only understands what needs to be done, but knows how to do it. ...Sev, with an almost existential devotion to his idea of himself and his craft, is a revelation, and might eventually become this generation's George Smiley. 

--Jeff Siegel, Mystery Scene Magazine

36 Yalta Boulevard [is] the third entry in Steinhauer's fascinating and original series. ... One reviewer ... compared Steinhauer to Graham Greene, but his latest is more in the Eric Ambler tradition of people in unwilling exile. 

--Dick Adler, The Chicago Tribune

Dense with an atmosphere of claustrophobia that seems to pervade all good spy novels. --Ken Kilpatrick, Hamilton Spectator

A retro atmosphere accounts for much of 36 Yalta Boulevard's entertainment value; lacking cell phones and computers, these spooks operate with surreptitious calls from phone booths and coded notes dropped behind park benches. ... Steinhauer’s world of shadow and fog succeeds by harking back to politico thrillers that were about real politics (think Graham Greene and Len Deighton), not flash-bang gizmos. --Mike Shea, Texas Monthly

Steinhauer ... is a master at entangling a compelling protagonist in a spellbinding web where each broken thread entraps the character (and the reader) in yet another mystery. This is an imaginative, brilliantly plotted espionage thriller, with finely detailed settings and a protagonist of marvelous complexity. Highly recommended. --Ronnie H Terpening,Library Journal (starred review)

A realistic look into a world of breadlines and constant shortages, a time when there were two classes in Brano's homeland--the wealthy leaders and the workers who had very little. Talented Olen Steinhauer gives us a look into what spying must really be like, without the glamour found in films and the shoot 'em ups that run through most thrillers. Low keyed action, but a tale that will keep you riveted as you turn pages. Highly recommended. --Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Brano Sev is Steinhauer's most intriguing hero yet, and that's saying something. ... With its shifting perceptions, pervasive paranoia, and truly unpredictable plot, this will be savored by readers of well-crafted espionage ranging from Alan Furst to John le Carre'. --Booklist (starred review)

Steinhauer's novels have always been a cut above the usual political thriller fare because of two things: the writing, which can be damn near beautiful at times, and the level of intelligence that comes through in how the story is told and how the main characters interact. So it goes with this one... --Sarah Weinman, Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind

36 Yalta Boulevard is an absorbing and utterly atmospheric novel. ... His prose will remind aficionados of Eric Ambler and Graham Greene while the plot of this novel is as complex and Byzantine as anything ever conceived by John LeCarrè. ... 36 Yalta Boulevard is a suspenseful and, at times, pulse-pounding book. ... stunning, magnificently written and thought-provoking. --James Clar, The Mean Streets

In only his third novel, author Olen Steinhauer brings to mind the baroque, highly complicated and yet spare plots of the master, John le Carre. --Andi Shechter, Bookreporter.com

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Liberation Movements (aka The Istanbul Variations) (2006)


EXCERPT - NOTES

"Liberation Movements is imbued with a retro kind of cool. [...] But Liberation Movements is not so cold or so neat, for all that. At its heart is a messy, human revenge plot that is as captivating as it is unlikely to end happily. - Anna Godbersen, Esquire

2007 Edgar Award Finalist: Best Novel of the Year -
Short-listed for the Grand prix des lectrices de Elle -
New York magazine: one of "The Best Novels You've Never Read"

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Liberation Movements (aka The Istanbul Variations) (2006)


EXCERPT - NOTES

"Liberation Movements is imbued with a retro kind of cool. [...] But Liberation Movements is not so cold or so neat, for all that. At its heart is a messy, human revenge plot that is as captivating as it is unlikely to end happily. - Anna Godbersen, Esquire

2007 Edgar Award Finalist: Best Novel of the Year -
Short-listed for the Grand prix des lectrices de Elle -
New York magazine: one of "The Best Novels You've Never Read"

Olen Steinhauer’s acclaimed crime series set in Eastern Europe has taken readers from the first shots of the revolution and through the chaos of the 1960s. Now, it is 1975, and one of the People’s Militia investigators is bound for Istanbul when his plane is hijacked by Armenian terrorists and explodes in midair.

Gavra Noukas, a secret policeman, and Katja Drdova, a homicide detective, are assigned to the case. Both believe that Brano Sev, their enigmatic superior and career secret policeman, is hiding the true motives of their investigation, but they can’t figure out why until they learn that everything is connected to a seven-year-old murder with far-reaching consequences.

The compelling politics and history for which Olen Steinhauer’s novels have been praised turn intimate in this ambitious novel.

RECEPTION

[...T]he echoes Steinhauer creates between the motives of terrorist groups like the fictional Army of the Liberation of Armenia, the real-life Red Army Faction and others of that day (and, by extension, those of our own) are unexpectedly chilling. Perhaps it is, as one character says, that "[t]he political, in fact, is really only the personal dressed up in more flamboyant clothes." [...]

With its plots and counterplots, secret identities and tradecraft taken straight from the Soviet playbook of the day, "Liberation Movements" is an entertaining [...] read that should put Steinhauer squarely in the front of the pack of today's espionage writers. And with complex, engaging characters like Gavra and Katja carrying on the work of Emil, Libarid, Brano and the older hands, it is an exhilarating and enjoyable ride.

--Paula Woods, LA Times

Conservatives should be lining up to purchase the work of Olen Steinhauer. However, his series of [thrillers] remain largely undiscovered treasures.

Steinhauer’s device of the unspecified time and place give him more freedom to explore life under communist rule. It’s said that combat consists of hours of boredom broken up by short bursts of sheer terror. In Steinhauer’s communist states, life is melancholia punctuated by terror, where the choice too often is between physical safety and a healthy soul.

 --David Forsmark, The National Review

Great stuff.

--The Observer (UK)

Steinhauer's elegant spy novel Liberation Movements is imbued with a retro kind of cool. [...] It is a tight, neatly structured story, built around the lives of very Cold War characters, individuals effaced by the secrecy of their professions and the cynicism of their nation. But Liberation Movements is not so cold or so neat, for all that. At its heart is a messy, human revenge plot that is as captivating as it is unlikely to end happily.

--Anna Godbersen, Esquire

Olen Steinhauer has outdone himself with LIBERATION MOVEMENTS [...] The meticulous interwoven plot [...] runs from character to character, and time frame to time frame. Many authors could lose a reader by setting this challenge before them. Not Steinhauer. This novel is tight, intelligent and incredibly well done. 

--Jennifer Jordan, CrimeSpree Magazine

I'm not sure exactly what first prompted American novelist Olen Steinhauer to use the crime fiction form to tell the story of the rise and fall of Communist ideology in an unnamed Eastern European country [...] Whatever the reason, it was an inspired choice--giving history and politics a chance to simmer over the flame of murder. [...] Steinhauer's first three books caught the frustration and bleakness of their Eastern European setting to heartbreaking perfection. He underscores those qualities this time with contrasting scenes of a Turkish capital bursting with life and some semblance of hope. And the irony which has colored the series to such strong effect is even more evident in "Liberation Movements." [...This is a] most important series.

--Dick Adler, Chicago Tribune

[...] beautifully crafted [...] building an intricate, suspenseful story with a surprising, character-driven ending. Steinhauer's complex character development factors in the effect of state repression and secrecy on personality and choices. His atmospheric writing also makes liberal use of irony and humor, much of it sardonic. This is a masterful series, which deserves a much larger readership.

--Lynn Harnett, Portsmouth Herald

dazzling... [A] 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.

--Publisher's Weekly (starred review)

Cool and cerebral crime thriller, full of political nuance and bathed in irony.

--Kirkus Reviews

...maybe his best novel to date. Elegant and entertaining, and set once again in the unnamed (but fully realized) Cold War-era Eastern European country so familiar to readers of the previous novels in this remarkable series, this is a book of emotional depth and political sophistication. More than simply a thriller or “spy novel,” this is a story of rare philosophical profundity.

--James Clar, The Mean Streets/Mystery News

It's clear that [Steinhauer's] command of the thriller is stronger than ever. [...] The writing is tight, intriguing and dripping with irony. The conclusion is the best kind, inevitable. [...] LIBERATION MOVEMENTS is a story the demands much of its readers, but the deep sense of artistic integrity that lingers after the story ends is more than enough reward for any extra effort. Bravo!

--Carroll Johnson, Reviewing The Evidence

I guess I should quit being surprised that Olen keeps meeting - and exceeding - my expectations because he has done it consistently. And his latest work, Liberation Movements, is no exception. [...It is] my must read book of the year so far. [...T]his latest work takes [the series] to another level. The well developed characters, the tight prose, the quick pacing and suspense all combine with a philosophical depth to create a near perfect reading experience. [...]

I found Liberation Movements to be a thoroughly fascinating and entertaining book. [...] It doesn't take long before Steinhauer has you sucked into the story. Short, tightly written chapters push the story forward and as events unfold the tension builds. But this is done without losing the style and power of the previous books. Although the pace is quicker you still get the feeling of visiting a foreign country and of getting a glimpse into the lives of the inhabitants of this fictional, yet seemingly real, place. It has the structure in some ways of an airport paperback but has the style and depth of a literary novel. [...]

Whether you like history, crime fiction, espionage thrillers, literary novels or all of the above you will enjoy his skillful and evocative stories.Liberation Movements is his best book yet, and a work that I hope gains the recognition that it deserves.

--Kevin Holtsberry, Collected Miscellany

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.

--Ronnie H Terpening, Library Journal (starred review)

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Victory Square (2007)


FIRST CHAPTER - NOTES  - THROUGH THE LENS (PDF PICTURE BOOK, DIRECT DOWNLOAD)

"Victory Square is an exciting and thought-provoking fictional portrayal of historic events, as well as a meditation on the personal corruption that pervades totalitarianism. It is [also] a suspenseful espionage thriller with enough twists and turns — and surprises and betrayals — to keep you frantically turning the pages. … If you haven’t yet discovered this gem of a series, I can’t recommend them enough." - Kevin Holtsberry, National Review

New York Times Editor's Choice - Booklist: Top 10 Mystery titles of 2007

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Victory Square (2007)


FIRST CHAPTER - NOTES  - THROUGH THE LENS (PDF PICTURE BOOK, DIRECT DOWNLOAD)

"Victory Square is an exciting and thought-provoking fictional portrayal of historic events, as well as a meditation on the personal corruption that pervades totalitarianism. It is [also] a suspenseful espionage thriller with enough twists and turns — and surprises and betrayals — to keep you frantically turning the pages. … If you haven’t yet discovered this gem of a series, I can’t recommend them enough." - Kevin Holtsberry, National Review

New York Times Editor's Choice - Booklist: Top 10 Mystery titles of 2007

The revolutionary politics and chaotic history at the heart of Olen Steinhauer’s literary crime series set in Eastern Europe have made it one of today’s most acclaimed, garnering two Edgar Award nominations, among numerous other awards. Upon reaching the tumultuous 1980s, the series comes full circle as one of the People’s Militia’s earliest cases reemerges to torment its inspectors, including militia chief Emil Brod, the original detective on the case. His arrest of a revolutionary leader in the late 1940s resulted in the politician’s imprisonment, but at the time Emil was too young to understand how great the cost would be. Only now, in 1989, when he is days from retirement and spends more and more time looking over his shoulder, does he realize that what he did in the line of duty may get him—and others—killed.

Murders, anarchy, conspiracy and a brutal revolution collide in the final volume of the Yalta Boulevard Sequence.

By fusing a story of revenge at any cost with a portrait of a country on the brink of collapse, Steinhauer masterfully brings the personal and political together with devastating results and once again raises crime fiction to a stunning new level.

RECEPTION

…grim but fascinating…well-plotted…currents of rebellion and pro-democracy fervor sizzle in the air, and this story catches all the danger and excitement of the historic moment… —Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

 Victory Square is an exciting and thought-provoking fictional portrayal of historic events, as well as a meditation on the personal corruption that pervades totalitarianism. It is [also] a suspenseful espionage thriller with enough twists and turns — and surprises and betrayals — to keep you frantically turning the pages. … If you haven’t yet discovered this gem of a series, I can’t recommend them enough. —Kevin Holtsberry, National Review

 It would be a disservice to slot this particular series of books into the “spy fiction” genre, if only because so often spy fiction concentrates on a comfortable pastiche of heroes and neither the reality of the times nor the sense of consequence that shines through Steinhauer’s clipped, economical prose… Steinhauer offers a concrete end to the sins of the past, but he’s too shrewd a writer to communicate anything other than this end as a necessary fiction. That’s the luxury of fiction, historical or otherwise: The ink ends on the final page, but the effects of these real-life events travel onward for many decades, the consequences of which only time will tell. —David Cotner, Los Angeles Times

 For some reason, the writing talents of Steinhauer have not been well publicized. Victory Square is the fifth in this brilliant series set in Eastern Europe just after the Second World War. Emil Brod, a figure central to the entire series, is set to retire in 1989, and remembering past events turns out to be traumatic for him. —Paul Fiander, The Halifax Herald

 [H]ere, as before, Steinhauer demonstrates why he’s one of the smartest, most thoughtful crime novelists to emerge in recent years. —Sarah Weinman, Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind

brilliant…masterful… —Kirkus Reviews

 masterful…This is remarkable storytelling, exploring the life cycle of a state through the eyes of political idealists, government informants, and good cops like Brod who just want to solve crimes. Steinhauer also offers a convincing portrait of the psychological shock that accompanies the downfall of even a hated dictator. —Booklist

Employing an intricate story, characters both sympathetic and despicable as well as a remarkable sense of place, Steinhauer subtly illuminates an unforgettable historical moment. —Publishers Weekly