St. Martin's, Feb 2003, 23.95, 288 pp.
In 1948, the aftermath of WW II remains on every street in this tiny eastern bloc nation shrouded behind an Iron Curtain. Though Communist and Russian controlled, murder remains a crime so twenty-two years old Emil Brod is proud when the State selects him to become a rookie homicide inspector. However his comrades, his chief comrade, and the security inspector treat him like a pariah because he safely “hid” in Finland rather than fighting the Nazis.
After a few days of the silent treatment with only filing for work, Emil's boss Chief Moska assigns him to investigate the murder of state songwriter Janos Crowder. Excited, Emil looks around the crime scene and interviews the apartment supervisor Tudor who found the body. Emil realizes the case has top-level connections so Moska assigned it to him to get rid of the newcomer. Later, Moska informs him that Tudor has also been killed. Now partnered with a veteran cop, who punched him in the testicles on his first day, Emil continues to make inquiries knowing that this could be his last investigation.
THE BRIDGE OF SIGHS is a robust historical police procedural that vividly brings to life Eastern Europe in the early Soviet days. The story line contains a strong investigation that alone will hook the audience, but the ensemble cast especially the detectives turn this mystery into a triumph that fans will want to read. Readers will anticipate Olen Steinhauer's second novel in what appears will prove to be one of the better cop series of this decade.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner