Innocence or murder on steep street by HedaMargolius Kovály
Original title –Nevina
Translator – Alex Zucker
Source – review copy
Tonight, tonight, I say goodbye
To everyone who loves me
Stick it to my enemies tonight
Then I disappear
Bathe my path in shining light
Set the dials to thrill me
Every secret has its price
This one’s set to kill
Too loose, too tight
Too dark, too bright
A lie, the truth
Which one should I use?
If the lie succeeds
Then you’ll know what I mean
When I tell you I have secrets to attend
Crime scene no1 by the afghan whigs is perfect match dark and brooding music like this book
Well today sees me in Eastern europe for Woman in translation month and a writer best known for her Memoir under a cruel star a memoir of her time in Auschwitz during the war . Well she wrote this novel in the years after the war when The Czech republic fell under soviet control , at the time she wrote the book it wasn’t allowed to be published and luckily a copy of the book managed to be saved to finally see the light of day in the 1980’s in Germany .Heda worked for many years translating book from English into Czech on of the writers she translated a lot of was the crime writer Raymond Chandler which is a obvious influence on this book .
“Believe me , I know .You can’t keep a secret at the Horizon .Anyway , if she did find somebody new everyone’d badmouth her for runnin’ around on her man in the clink ,Meanwhile if the shoe was on the other foot and she was the one locked up her husband would find another girl in a week and people’d say
Helena and Karel he worked for the government and she had a better job before she went to the Horizon cinema .
The book revolves around a murder a young boy is found dead in a cinema and the staff of this cinema the Horizon , the first section of the book is told from the perspective of on of the usherettes Helena .this first section tells what happened and then see some of the characters that crop up in the book like people working in the cinema , the husband of Helena , Karel whom is in trouble with the authorities . the last two-thirds of the book are told by a nameless observer that watches why the boy was killed , who works for the government in the cinema , what really is happening ? which usher did it or was it them ? As we see the inspector trying to get to the bottom of it all .
The fat man hunched over in his chair and thought a moment
“Steep street is practically made for a knife ” he said .His voice was slow with sleepiness and husky , perhaps with the memory of the darkness on steep street .He laid a palm on his eyes and rubbed them as if trying to erase the sight from his mind .
I loved piece like this as they could have jumped of a hard-boiled american novel ,she caught that style of writing so well and Alex Zucker has retained in his translation .
This is an homage to two things firstly to Czech lit there is tones of Kafka here it is hard to avoid the feeling of Helena falling into one of those Kafka like rabbit holes here as things started to fall into place.As every one isn’t what they first seems and it is very easy to get caught up in the government web that is being woven . The other is homage to Chandler and that style of crime novel , lots nods to american crime novels .The female character are like Chandlers but to me are maybe more rounded in the writing . There is feeling red herring and such here . The ushers whom fall suspect of the death of the young boy each have a connection and could be the killer . This is a book for lovers of both hard-boiled crime or Kafkaesque fiction . We are lucky it managed to avoid being destroyed by the censors .
Have you a favourite book in translation influenced by american fiction , but still keeping it identity ?