Confession

( 5 )

Overview

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 ...

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The Confession

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
Knowing what's to come in Hungary and Poland, we can only marvel at the rumbling undertone of dread that Steinhauer builds around what appears to be a routine investigation of a suicide but turns out to be just the tip of a murderous political conspiracy. And while Ferenc has more character flaws than Brod, he is no less a hero of his troubled times, a man so depressed and without faith that forcing himself to go on living is in itself a true act of heroism. — Marilyn Stasio
Publishers Weekly
Ferenc Kolyeszar, the main character in this sharp tale of murder, political intrigue and human failings, is a large, disillusioned police inspector with a weakness for drink and cigarettes. Narrator Dean's naturally deep, gravelly voice works well in that context, but the rest of his performance is uneven. The novel takes place in an unnamed Eastern Bloc nation in 1956, and it centers on a series of converging discoveries by Kolyeszar and his colleagues. As Moscow asserts an increasing influence in the country, their office and their personal lives become charged with distrust and fear, a sense that becomes more pronounced as they draw closer to unveiling a dire secret. Dean has a clear sense of drama and narrative pacing, and he wisely steps back and allows Steinhauer (The Bridge of Sighs) to set the progressively nervy tone. But while he renders most of the male characters believably-albeit without much nuance-he struggles with females and with sustaining any voice that's said to have an idiosyncrasy. The production is spare and straightforward, but the engrossing story makes up for the recording's slight imperfections. Simultaneous release with the St. Martin's Minotaur hardcover (Forecasts, Dec. 1, 2003). (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Steinhauer's bold follow-up to The Bridge of Sighs is simply brilliant. It is not your usual police procedural but a well-crafted mystery that mixes murder and political intrigue with the human element. The author's return to the still unnamed Eastern European city and country that serve as the background for this Cold War-era murder mystery transports the listener back into the grimy and brutal world of the homicide squad of Emil Brod. Surprisingly, this time around Emil plays a supporting role to fellow homicide inspector Ferenc Kolyeszar. The hunt for the killer is intertwined with Ferenc's sad family situation, his growing conflict with a visiting KGB officer, and the betrayal of a close friend, along with his struggles as a novelist. Everything takes place against the backdrop of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and highlights the sense of fear, depression, and frustration of those who lived under the yoke of a Communist state. Robertson Dean's narration makes the listener's journey a bit more believable. Recommended for all public and academic libraries.-Scott R. DiMarco, Herkimer Cty. Community Coll., NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Postwar Eastern Europe chillingly evoked by a storyteller (Bridge of Sighs, 2003) who understands the relentless conjunction between character and suspense. In 1956, the Soviet Union is a dark, debilitating presence in the lives of Eastern Europeans. Ferenc Kolyeszar is a homicide detective, a Comrade Inspector in the People's Militia of his unnamed, war-ravaged little country. For some time the Soviet miasma has been affecting the way he thinks and behaves. But then comes the order to help squash a student demonstration, one he might well have joined under altered circumstances. He swings his club, knocks a few people down, then bolts, suddenly confronted with an overpowering sense of a society and a self in decay. He feels "dirtied" in ways he can only partially articulate. The murder case he's handed a few days later does little to restore lost equilibrium. A party bureaucrat whose wife has disappeared tells the police he fears foul play. His prophecy is soon justified-except that the official himself is the vicious perpetrator. Though it's a bad case, with roots in a murky past the KGB wants to keep buried, Ferenc works it assiduously, with helpless fatalism, knowing it has personal disaster written all over it. But he's willing to plunge into disaster if that's the price of redemption. Good enough to suggest comparison with Graham Greene: place the author in the forefront of contemporary suspense writers, and make your mouth occasionally go dry. Agent: Matt Williams/The Gernert Company
From the Publisher
"Postwar Eastern Europe chillingly evoked by a storyteller... who understands the relentless conjunction between character and suspense.... Good enough to suggest comparison with Graham Greene; place the author in the forefront of contemporary suspense writers..."

-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"This is a gripping and fully realized portrayal of a man whose strengths, flaws, struggle, and ultimate fall are emblematic of the fate of Eastern Europe itself. While skillfully developed, the intricacies of plot, particularly the story behind the diverse crimes, fade to relative insignificance in light of Ferenc's heartrending 'confession'. Densely atmospheric and strongly recommended..."

-Library Journal (starred review)

"Beyond delivering an involving police procedural in an intriguing setting, the author relates with spare irony his narrator's psychological journey.... [The Confession] is enthusiastically recommended for fans of well-made hard-boiled and noir fiction."

-Booklist (starred review)

"Bigger in scope... than The Bridge of Sighs [...Steinhauer's original and mesmerizing first mystery]... the novel makes readers wonder just what Steinhauer will do for the next book in his series..."

-Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312338152
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2005
  • Series: Eastern Europe Thrillers Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 230,031
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Olen Steinhauer

Olen Steinhauer’s widely acclaimed Eastern European crime series, which he was inspired to write while on a Fulbright fellowship, is a two-time Edgar Award finalist and has been shortlisted for the Anthony, the Macavity, the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger, and the Barry awards. The series includes 36 Yalta Boulevard, The Bridge of Sighs, Liberation Movements, and Victory Square. Steinhauer is also the author of the bestselling Milo Weaver series, including The Nearest Exit and The Tourist. Raised in Virginia, Steinhauer lives with his family in Budapest, Hungary.

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Read an Excerpt

1

*****

Packing up the dacha was a simple, silent affair. Three weeks' worth of clothes, damp underwear still hanging from the back porch, pens and paper, and all the books. I saw Flaubert and Dostoyevsky to the S

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Table of Contents

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Reading Group Guide

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.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 9, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A darker Commissario Brunetti (Donna Leon)

    Set in 1956 Eastern Europe, one reads of labor camps, neighbor's spying on neighbors and the need to follow a set code of conduct if one wants to stay out of harms way. Conrade Inspector Ferenec Kolyeszar walks the line both as a policeman and as a want-to-be writer. Not for someone looking for a cheery detective story, Steinhauer helps us feel if not understand how hard life was like way back when. He weaves together a story of a 'good' cop who tries to solve crimes without upsetting the political applecart too much. Very well written and makes one appreciate our present lives in light of the past.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2004

    Good mystery

    Now turning thirty, seven years has passed since an idealistic Emil Brod joined the police force as a Comrade Homicide Detective, but now by 1956 he is like his peers, grim and ever looking over his shoulders at the KGB representative. Emil has learned survival means trust no one and gingerly investigate whenever the Party is involved................................ Meanwhile Police Officer Ferenc Kolyeszar prefers to be a novelist, but in this small Communist nation getting anything published is controlled by the Party. Though Ferenc has talent his résumé shows one paperback. Now he writes a book about the depressing world of artists representing Everyman behind the Iron Curtain. Any creativity typically leads to work camps that even in the post Stalin era remains dehumanizing and deadly. Besides the censorship that haunts Ferenc, he suffers remorse over a recent assignment involving college students. As he investigates the murder of a party bureaucrat, KGB agent Kaminski watches Ferenc looking forward to destroying the wannabe author...................... This 1950s Communist police procedural is a terrific tale that provides the audience with insight into life inside a Soviet satellite country just after the death of Stalin. The strong story line surprisingly relegates the hero of the first novel (BRIDGE OF SIGHS) to a cynical secondary role. This allows comparison to Ferenc, a tragic Shakespearean character who knows that his latest case will personally cost him dearly; yet he cannot adapt to the party line especially after he carried out a recent assignment to bash the heads of protesting college students. This is a great Eastern European Communist historical police procedural that should provide Owen Steinhauer a strong fan base.............................. Harriet Klausner

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted June 26, 2010

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    Posted May 22, 2009

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    Posted June 2, 2011

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