Saturday, November 4, 2017
Ottawa Review of Books Reviewer Shares with New Book Review
by Geza Tatrallyay
Published by Black Opal Books
Reviewed by Timothy Niedermann originally for the Ottawa Review of Books
Greg Martens and Anne Rossiter, now Anne Martens, are back in Vienna, home of the Sachertorte pastry and the small milk-and-mocha coffee known as the kleiner Brauner. The last time they were here (in the first volume of the projected Twisted trilogy, “Twisted Reasons”) was to find out what happened to Greg’s friend Adam Kallay, an official with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) who had disappeared and was presumed dead. Anne, at the time, was with Interpol in Vienna, and working with Julia Saparova, a Russian who also worked with the IAEA, Greg and Anne had plunged into the shadowy world of international arms dealing to try to recover stolen arms-grade uranium. Their mission was successful, marred only by confirmation of Adam’s death. Now Julia has disappeared, and Greg and Anne are summoned by Interpol from their idyllic Vermont home, back to the cultural splendor of the Austrian capital. But as before, the trail to find Julia inevitably leads to the dark alleys and shady nightclubs of Eastern Europe.
In this, the second volume of the Twisted trilogy, author Tatrallyay immerses us again into the murky criminal underworld of post-Soviet Russia, this time the business of sex trafficking. Nadia, a Russian teenager, thought she was traveling to Western Europe to find a job. Instead, she finds herself kidnapped, sexually abused, and forced to act as a stripper in a bar. Meanwhile, her father, a guard at a Russian nuclear facility, is being blackmailed by Nadia’s captors to look the other way when a certain Julia Saparova arrives. So where is Julia and what is she up to? As the trails Greg and Anne are following begin to intertwine, old “friends” from “Twisted Reasons” reappear, back in the game of stealing uranium from a former Soviet nuclear site for sale to a mysterious client.
Nadia, meanwhile is destined to be auctioned off as a sex slave to one of several sleazy, but very wealthy criminal bosses. Without being gratuitously graphic, Tatrallyay does not hold back in his descriptions of the depravity of the men who enslave these young women for sale to the highest bidder. Well organized and vicious, they lead Greg and Anne on a tense cross-border chase from Vienna to a yacht on the shore of the Adriatic where the final auction is to take place.
Adding a parallel mystery is the story of Julia’s aunt Katerina, who disappeared in Soviet Russia in 1950 and was never heard of again. Rumours persist that she had been taken prisoner by none other than Lavrenti Beria, the perverted head of the NKVD, Stalin’s secret police.
Tatrallyay was born in Hungary and knows this part of the world well. He creates a vivid atmosphere through which he propels his characters at top speed, never letting the pace slacken or the suspense wane. Though there is less of a history lesson in this book than in the first, Tatrallyay does dip into the real past to give his plot depth. This is welcome and reflects the sensation one often feels in Europe, that the past still has its hand, whether nurturing or threatening, on the shoulder of the present.
MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Geza Tatrallyay was born in Budapest and escaped with his family in 1956 during the Hungarian Revolution, immigrating to Canada. He studied at Harvard, Oxford (Rhodes Scholar) and the London School of Economics. His professional experience has included stints in government, international finance and environmental entrepreneurship. With six books published to date and several more due to be released during the next year, he now devotes his time to writing.
There is more on Geza and his books at www.gezatatrallyay.com.
MORE ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Timothy Niedermann is a professional editor, reviewer, and novelist who has also taught writing at Yale and McGill. His essays have appeared in The Montreal Review, and he reviews books for the Montreal Review of Books and the Ottawa Review of Books. His novel, Wall of Dust, was published by Deux Voiliers Publishing in 2015. There is more on Timothy at www.timothyniedermann.com.
MORE ABOUT THIS BLOG
The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. Of particular interest to readers of this blog is her most recent How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically (http://bit.ly/GreatBkReviews ). This blog is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.