Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Nomad Is an Island

I’ve raved so much about Olen Steinhauer’s series, which focus on police in an unnamed Eastern Bloc nation (the author spent some time in Romania as a Fulbright Scholar), that seeing the series end is like saying good-bye to a dear friend. The latest entry, Victory Square, once again stars Emil Brod, who started out in 1948 (according to 2004’s Bridge of Sighs) as an inexperienced investigator suspected by his colleagues. Now, in Victory Square, it’s 1989, and both Brod and his country have lived through many torrents of false hope and repression. Over the course of six days, as Brod’s final case leads him in a circle right back to his first, the Ceauşescu government topples (also the subject of a terrific Romanian film called 12:08 East of Bucharest) and Brod must find out why his own name is on a hit list--while simultaneously dodging riots, road closures, and sniper fire.

By the way, the rather inept pun which headlines this piece refers to a blog called Contemporary Nomad, to which author Steinhauer contributes.

Featured as well on that same blog is Kevin Wignall, who also has a new book--Who Is Conrad Hirst?--nearing publication. In it, we find British assassin Hirst trying to get out of the killing business. But there’s work to be done first--four associates must be eliminated before he can embark on a new life. Doubts begin to surface: Is it possible that he’s working for the CIA, rather than the German mobster he believes is his employer? A beautifully written and masterfully plotted spy thriller that might bring to mind the works of Eric Ambler.

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