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Ruthenia Quintet Books In Order

Publication Order of Ruthenia Quintet Books

The Bridge of Sighs (2003) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Confession (2004) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Vienna Assignment (2005) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Istanbul Variations (2006) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Victory Square (2007) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle


American writer of spy fiction Olen Steinhauer is well known for his tense and exciting novels that manage to twist and subvert the genre lending them his own unique perspective in the process. With books of his reaching the top of the New York Times bestseller list he’s no stranger to large audiences gaining both commercial and critical success alike on an international platform. His Ruthenia Quintet series of novels is no exception to this rule, it being set within Communist-era Europe filled with intrigue, backdoor politics and covert operations, this now being a specialty of his as an author.

The book itself is set in the times of Communist-era politics happening in Eastern Europe during the soviet period, as it follows the on-goings surrounding a cast of characters living in the shadows. Working alongside police and intelligence agents within this period is one Emil Brod, a young detective just starting out at twenty-two years old and looking to make his mark. The German occupation has just recently left his small nation as the Russians now maintain a presence there having liberated it. It’s 1948 and he’s spent the last years working in Finland on a fishing boat during the war and now, with the Red Army remaining the dominant force there, he’s finally got a chance to shine. Young and eager to make his mark he’s followed by a series of other detectives and high-ranking officials over the five books that were to follow over the years to come. The novels themselves focused on this shadowy world and intriguing time period when double-crossing and duplicity was rife, a set of factors that helped establish this popular genre. With an eye for historical accuracy as well, Steinhauer manages to combine both entertainment and facts together in one strong and powerful combination that still proves popular to this very day.

The Bridge of Sighs

First published in 2003 on the 1st of February, this particular novel was the one that started the series as a whole introducing the initial set-up and world as a whole. Establishing both the style and the tone of the books to follow, it manages to create an ambiance that lets readers know what to expect in the forthcoming novels. Bringing in his first character in the form of an idealistic young hopeful looking to make his way in the world, Steinhauer here manages to effectively introduce the readers into this world easily by seeing it through his eyes.

The main protagonist of Emil Brod is a young and keen eyed idealistic man of only twenty-two who has come into the city after working for the duration of the second world war on a Finnish fishing boat. Desperate to serve his country he hopes to make his mark as a homicide detective and do whatever it takes to get the job done and bring justice to those in need. It is this strict sense of justice that lands him in trouble though, as things aren’t as black and white as they first appear and there are many operating to their own gray shaded sense of morality.

Finding a murdered songwriter for the state, Emil finds that he has his first case on his hands as he aims to find out who done it, despite the murder not looking as simple as it first appeared. Expected to finish the investigation and find the culprit, he fast discovers that he’s up against the elements in what is essentially a lawless and corrupt society where political motives lie in his path to the truth. Despite being naive to the world, he fast finds that this post-war society contains a lot of traps and pitfalls for which he wasn’t initially prepared to handle. Will he be able to find the culprit? What are the political motivations behind it all? Can he learn the truth behind the Bridge of Sighs?

The Confession

Originally published on the 1st of November, 2003, this was the follow up to the first novel that continued on from the previous events in the years afterwards. Continuing with a different protagonist, it managed to take the series in a different direction whilst still simultaneously remaining true to the original book. Creating new themes and styles to work from, the mysterious ambiance surrounding everything is still there, with the powers that be this time being the state militia that have been imposed there, with the character of Comrade Inspector Ferenc Kolyeszar as the lead character making sense of it all this time.

This time featuring the story of Kolveszar it uses the narrative from his particularly distinctive perspective, seeing the world through his eyes, as he tries to make sense of the world around him. As well as being state militia he’s also a writer who has an estranged wife and is currently feeling displaced in the world, as he tries to get over his writer’s block. A man focused on his job and his work, he is both resourceful and astute, being able to see things no others can, but this is a skill that’s increasingly being put to the test more and more as time goes on.

Set in 1956, Ferenc is tasked with investigating the disappearance of a member of the party’s wife, a disappearance that’s most mysterious. There’s also to be a demonstration in the capital that Ferenc was hoping to participate in, but it would appear that him and other party members are expected to prevent it from taking place. Then a painter is murdered and the web of lies only seems to increase as he’s drawn into a world of deceit and lies from which he might have trouble escaping. Will he learn the truth? Can he keep his wits about him? What will become of the confession?

The Ruthenia Quintet Series

Running over a course of five books from 2003 to 2007, this series was a strong a clearly executed collection of novels with a strong thematic arc running throughout. Each novel follows a different protagonist which gives them all a distinctively unique perspective and insight into this rich and densely populated world of mystery. There’s more to come from Olen Steinhauer as an author, as he has a lot more potential to expand upon his genre, but this particular series of novels leaves a definite lasting impact in the field to this day.

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