cover image Liberation Movements

Liberation Movements

Olen Steinhauer, . . St. Martin's Minotaur, $24.95 (291pp) ISBN 978-0-312-33204-4

Steinhauer's dazzling fourth book in his series about various police and intelligence agents in an unnamed Communist-era Eastern European country gives a large role to Brano Sev, the seriously conflicted spy who starred in the previous entry, 36 Yalta Boulevard (2005). Sev sums up the new book's theme when he says to a younger subordinate, "Intelligence work is precisely what it says—it's about intelligence. We are not murderers." There's some irony here: we know that Sev has killed several people himself. But there's also an unexpected note of humanity, as Sev supervises the investigation by two junior agents of a murder in Russian-occupied Prague in 1968 that's later tied to a plane hijacked by Armenian terrorists on its way to Istanbul in 1975. Another new element is the Turkish capital, alive and yeasty compared to the drab, restricted home city of 36 Yalta Boulevard . And the emergence of a major female character—a homicide investigator looking for personal justice—shows how a skilled writer working at the top of his form can keep a series from faltering. (Aug.)