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