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The Confession by Olen Steinhauer
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The Confession (2004)

by Olen Steinhauer

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Showing 5 of 5
This was a very impressive story. It shows that Steinhauer knows the Eastern Europe history of the cold war very closely. While the first book in this series during and after WWII plays describes this part of the mid fifties. As before it comes to spying in the highest circles. Neither the police nor the intelligence service is exempt. The big brother Russia flexes its muscles and monitors the activities of other countries of Eastern Europe. The Russian spies have the feeling that they had a free hand and cover up their murders and killed police officers other nations who come too close. Ferenc tries again this time not only to protect his wife and daughter as well as his closest friends in the police station and he brings himself in great danger.
Besides the great crisis in Hungary is mentioned. During these tragic weeks, many Hungarians fled to the West. I myself have friends who participated this flight. Although they are now almost 60 years living with us, this tragic chapter of her life is always in them. ( )
  Ameise1 | Feb 20, 2016 |
The book is just as much about exploring life in 1956 Eastern Europe as it is about the crimes that get solved. The action devoted to solving the crimes is of equal importance to other aspects of daily life for the policemen. This is the second in the series, set in a fictional Eastern European, Soviet satellite country, each set in a subsequent decade. I read the first (The Bridge of Sighs) recently, and enjoyed it alot. This one was just as enjoyable, and I plan on finishing the series soon.
The local homicide police force is again the focus of the book. The main character from the first novel is still there, and plays a role, but the starring role this time goes to Forenc Kolyeczar, who was also in the first book. He has published a novel since them, which gives him entree to the local artistic community, but is dealing with writers' block at the start here. He is also dealing with a shaky marriage, relations with his wife are very strained; he is sleeping on the couch; his wife is out most nights supposedly with a girlfriend, but Ferenc suspects that she is spending time with one of his co-workers, Stephan.
The world of art plays a large role, in that the victims of the crimes that must be solved are involved in the local art scene, one was a curator, the other an artist and the third the artist's ex-wife.
A Soviet KGB officer has been assigned to work out of the office, which creates a lot of tension, beyond that already present due to a local state security cop who works with them. During this time, there is a slight loosening of central control on life. Many political prisoners are released, and there are demonstrations in Budapest and in Poland. But the Hungarian Spring is crushed during the time period covered here.
But despite the slight easing of repression, there is still official surveillance and intimidation. And this affects every aspect of life. “When you know you are being watched, every movement takes on great significance. My stumbling walk down the corridor to the bathroom had been on a stage, with a crowd of thousands watching. Bent over the bowl, there was laughter, and when nothing came, hoots and catcalls. I was never alone, and never would be.” (169)
People still live in fear of getting a notice to report to Yalta Blvd, the Ministry of State Security headquarters, for a “document check”, which usually results in the person's imprisonment or worse. Although people listen to the American broadcasts, describing protests in other countries and their violent suppression, or other state atrocities, eventually the transmission is blocked with a sudden loud whine, and you must make sure to change the channel to an official station before you turn the radio off. ( )
  BillPilgrim | Oct 2, 2014 |
The Confession, Olen Steinhauer's second novel set in an unnamed post-war Eastern European country, is a complex multi-layered work - part police procedural, part erotic romance, part noir mystery, part reflection on totalitarian excesses. That's a lot to fit into 326 pages, but Steinhauer deftly manages to pull it off.

Set in 1956, The Confession centers on Ferenc Kolyeszar, a member of a state police unit (the People's Militia) in the Capital, but also an author with connections to the underground literary community. Neighboring Hungarians are experimenting with freedom and pulling away from Moscow until that revolt is brutally repressed. During sympathetic protests in the Capital, the commissar-like Russian Kaminsky puts the police unit in the uncomfortable and unfamiliar role of repressor. Ferenc is less than fully cooperative.

At the same time, Ferenc's partner pursues a seemingly fruitless investigation of an apparent suicide with links to the art world while another member of the unit digs into the unsolved murder of a colleague who had been investigating a rape and murder that others would as soon left alone. Ferenc's own investigation of the disappearance of the beautiful young wife of a powerful industrialist takes an unexpected turn.

Ferenc's marriage is failing and he suspects his police partner is cuckolding him. He takes to heavy drinking and spending nights away from home. Multiple pressures build on Ferenc until he takes some decidedly rash actions.

Steinhauer pulls the various strands of the story together. His close examination of the brutality inside a forced labor camp for political prisoners is both chilling and brilliant. The closing forty pages were as good an ending as I have read in quite some time - a 'wow'. Highly recommended. ( )
  dougwood57 | May 3, 2008 |
Amazing crime novels set in Eastern Europe that feature a group of detectives and spies in the ironically named People’s Militia.
—Paula L. Woods, Washington Post
  NativeRoses | Jun 4, 2007 |
Beautifully written, draws you into its setting, it's part of an interesting series where each novel has as its protagonist a different character, all of whom are introduced in the first novel. ( )
  AlaMich | Feb 17, 2007 |
Showing 5 of 5
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312338155, Paperback)

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.

The Confession is a fantastic follow-up to Olen Steinhauer's brilliant debut, The Bridge of Sighs, and it guarantees to advance this talented writer on his way to being one of the premiere thriller writers of a generation.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:32 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

The small, unnamed Eastern bloc country of Olen Steinhauer's debut novel 'The Bridge of Sighs' is making its first tentative steps towards democracy. By command of the party chairman, the labour camps are being emptied of innocent civilians. The amnesty has begun.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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