Budapest Noir: A Novel

Budapest Noir: A Novel

4.4 5
by Vilmos Kondor
     
 

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The passing of the Hungarian prime minister before he could realize his dream of a fascist state has little effect on crime reporter Zsigmond Gordon. Life—and death—go on in the bustling old city, and a late-night tip soon leads him to a crime scene where a young woman lies dead, a Jewish prayer book in her purse. Disturbed by the bizarre circumstances&

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Overview

The passing of the Hungarian prime minister before he could realize his dream of a fascist state has little effect on crime reporter Zsigmond Gordon. Life—and death—go on in the bustling old city, and a late-night tip soon leads him to a crime scene where a young woman lies dead, a Jewish prayer book in her purse. Disturbed by the bizarre circumstances—the corpse of a beautiful, well-groomed, religious victim abandoned in one of Budapest's seedier neighborhoods—Gordon is determined to unravel the mystery of her demise, especially after her shocking identity is revealed. The investigation will lead him deep into the city's dark underbelly—a shadow world of pornographers, crime syndicates, and Communist cells—and to the highest echelons of power, where one of Hungary's most influential executives plans to make an economic killing through his strong political ties to Germany's leaders...if he can somehow keep secret the fact that he was, at one time, Jewish.

A gripping and evocative thriller, brimming with suspense and breathtaking political intrigue, Vilmos Kondor's Budapest Noir is a richly atmospheric tale of murder and betrayal from a remarkable new voice in noir detective fiction.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in the fall of 1936, Hungarian author Kondor’s atmospheric debut introduces Zsigmond Gordon, the crime reporter for the Evening, a Budapest newspaper. Gordon is less interested in covering the funeral of real-life Hungarian prime minister Gyula Gömbös (who had been “a sincere friend of Italy. And, of course, of Mussolini. And Hitler”) than in investigating the murder of a young prostitute found on a seedy neighborhood street with a Jewish prayer book in her purse. Gordon works his contacts in the police force, including homicide head Vladimir Gellért, who happens to possess a photo of the victim naked, and sleuths his way into the cigarette-littered lair of a voluptuous courtesan known as Red Margo. In classic noir fashion, he even takes a savage beating and keeps on ticking. Fans of Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther series (Field Gray, etc.) will find a lot to like. (Feb.)
Library Journal
The gray, urban landscape of 1936 Budapest is matched in this debut by the bleakness of the Nazi-influenced social and political milieu. Against this noir backdrop, Zsigmond Gordon, a newspaper crime reporter, investigates the murder of a beautiful Jewish woman whose body is found on the street. In the process, he encounters a formidable gamut of secret police, pornographers, thugs, and boxers while navigating such obstacles as anti-Semitism, sex rings, and family secrets. Gordon's one-man effort to get to the bottom of a crime contrasts strikingly with the prevailing sense of indolence that allowed for the rise of Nazi Germany in Europe. Readers' knowledge of the systematic mass murder to follow makes the story, with its dark setting, more disturbing. VERDICT Kondor's impressive first novel, which unfolds against an atmosphere tinged by alienation, fear, and the threat of violence, stands out for its deft writing, plausible scenarios, vivid sense of place, and noir sensibility.—Seamus Scanlon, Ctr. for Worker Education, City Coll. of New York
Kirkus Reviews
A dead Jewish prostitute arouses the interest of a crime reporter in 1936 Budapest. Despite two major headline stories to occupy him--the death of the prime minister and the upcoming trial of the head of Unit IV, which was tasked with confidence crimes--Zsigmond Gordon, ace crime reporter for the Evening, is sidetracked when he spots a racy photograph of a girl in a drawer left unlocked by Vladimir Gellért, current homicide section chief. Who is she, and what happened to her? A snitch sends Gordon to Nagy Diófa Street, a prostitute's stroll, where the girl lies dead with a Jewish prayer book in her purse. Later, the autopsy report indicates that she was pregnant and killed by a brutal kick to the stomach. Gordon's attempts to identify her lead him to a porno photographer and secret boxing venues. To circumvent his inquiries, his girlfriend is threatened and he is beaten so badly that he can barely stand up for two days. Still, he soldiers on, discovering the girl's ties to a businessman who owes his financial success to his cozying up to German politicos and whose livelihood would have been threatened if the girl's love for a rabbi's son were to be revealed. Tram rides from Buda to Pest and an overnight car journey to the mountains disclose more parts of the dead girl's story, which ends with another fatal beating and a death the homicide section chief deems a suicide. Dark and edgy, with interesting characters and locales. More from Kondor would be welcome.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061859397
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
01/31/2012
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
674,583
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Vilmos Kondor graduated from the Sorbonne in Paris with a degree in chemical engineering before returning home to Hungary. He lives with his wife, daughters, and dog in a quiet village near the Austrian border and teaches high school mathematics and physics. Budapest Noir is his first novel.

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Budapest Noir 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
New setting for me. Keep me turning pages to rhe end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well designed characters thar fit in WW II times and in todays realty. A book that lingers in my mind.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written, but difficult to follow foreign character names
bookmouseDH More than 1 year ago
Very intriguing with lots of twists and turns. Thoroughly enjoyed
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I finished reading the novel I was well satisfied with the ending, but I still wanted to read more about the relationship between Gordon and Kryztina. It is a relationship that was realistic in the pre=WW II setting of the plot, and yet would fit well into our 21st century western culture. As Oliver Twist would plea, more sir.