Friday, April 24, 2020

Review of On Leaving a Prague Window by David Brierley (1996, Little Brown and Co)

Eighteen months after The Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia and the country is still finding its feet. The apparatus of the old state has faded into the shadows but are still pulling strings, exerting influence and trying to protect themselves from accusations related to their regime. Melina Prerova is seeking answers to the death of her journalist lover during the last uprising in 1968. Disgraced Father Alois Fulcek has found himself helping her. Broucek, a high ranking official in the Finance Ministry who had been abusing his power hears of their quest and seeks to shut them down, pulling favours from old colleagues. The fulcrum of the three main actors is a concern for Radl, a kingpin from the previous regime keen to retain his power in the new state by reinventing himself. Will truth out or be supressed as the country tries to come to terms with life post-Communism. Brierley’s novel is an allegory of the transition, secrets and power. It kind of works at one level, but the story is very drawn out and not very engaging for much of its telling. It’s kind of difficult to care about any of the characters and the thriller element is quite flat. The result is a story lacks heart and hook.

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