Steinhauer, Olen. The Bridge of Sighs. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. February 2003. c288p. ISBN 0-312-30245-2. $23.95. Fiction.

In 1948, in a small, unnamed, Eastern European country, homicide detective Emil Brod has been assigned a case no one wants him to solve. To make matters worse, he’s only twenty-two years old, this is his first case in the People’s Militia, and his colleagues think he’s a spy. The victim, a state songwriter, appears to have been blackmailing a politicos, a man formerly known as Smerdyakov, the Butcher who has connections to the highest levels of the state and a past that includes wartime atrocities for the Nazis and then the Russians. In his attempt to uncover the truth, Brod soon finds himself battling a host of obstacles (including the murder of his best witness). At the same time, he finds himself attracted to the songwriter’s wife, who becomes his lover and a possible victim herself. This is an intelligent, finely polished debut, loaded with atmospheric detail that effortlessly re-creates the rubble-strewn streets of the postwar period in an Eastern state “liberated” from German occupation by the Russians. Highly recommended for mystery collections.

LJ, 127, no. 20 (December 2002), 184.

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