Famed Holocaust memoirist Heda Margoulis Kovaly (Under a Cruel Star) knits her own terrifying experiences in Soviet Prague into a powerful, Raymond Chandler-esque work of literary suspense.
Prague in the 1950s is a city of numerous small terrors, of political tyranny, corruption, and surveillance. There is no way of knowing whether one's neighbor is spying for the government or what one's supposed friend will say under pressure to a state security agent. A loyal party member might be imprisoned or executed as quickly as a traitor; innocence means nothing for a person caught in a government trap.
But there are larger terrors, too. When a little boy is murdered at the cinema where his aunt works, the ensuing investigation sheds a little too much light on the personal lives of the cinema's female ushers, each of whom is hiding a dark secret of her own.
Nearly lost to censorship, this rediscovered gem of Czech literature depicts a chilling moment in history, redolent with the stifling atmosphere of political and personal oppression of the early days of Communist Czechoslovakia.
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Not at all like Raymond Chandler
What genre is this supposed to be? Mystery? Romance? Political thriller? It really isn't any of these.
If you enjoy suspenseful thrillers but dislike stories with long-winded narrators pining about their relationships, then this book is probably not for you.
This story is nothing like Raymond Chandler. Large portions of this book are devoted to a first-person narrator's stream of consciousness, as she ponders and pines about her relationships and her friends' perceptions of her. In other words, for large portions of this book, nothing happens.
Some people might enjoy that kind of writing, but if you are looking for a narrative style like Chandler's, then look elsewhere.
This author is reportedly an admirer of Chandler's books, but the listener should know that in this book the author is not even attempting to emulate Chandler.