Cage

Alberts Bels, Author, Ojars Kratins, Translator
Alberts Bels, Author, Ojars Kratins, Translator Peter Owen Publishers $29.95 (160p) ISBN 978-0-7206-0802-1
Reviewed on: 12/01/1990
Release date: 12/01/1990
A leading Latvian novelist outlines a mystery that erupts into parlor-room philosophizing. Valdis Struga, a detective at the Riga militia's division of missing persons, has just been fantasizing about disappearing when he is called upon to locate Edmunds Berz, a privileged architect who has vanished without a trace. His protagonist's search gives Bels an opportunity to sketch Latvian society and to introduce a range of citizens. As Struga investigates and as the narrator presents the viewpoints of related characters (Berz's wife, boss, colleagues, etc.), striking parallels between hunter and hunted emerge. Initially Bels's swift characterizations and dexterous cuts between scenes are enough to captivate any reader, but as the novel continues to explore only the metaphysical implications of Berz's disappearance, Western readers in particular may hunger for more procedural details. The symbolism eventually becomes heavy-handed, and the climax--in which the fate of Berz is at last revealed--is seriously undercut by overblown rhetorical devices. (May)
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