BUDAPEST NOIR by Vilmos Kondor


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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.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-06-185939-7
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2011


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