4 out of 4 stars
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The Budapest Job by Alice Spigelman is a political thriller published under the genre of C/T/M/H. The author sets the story in Hungary, in 1989, after the fall of communism. Tom Gaspar arrives in Budapest with two goals. He plans to help his company construct apartment buildings, and he needs to find out how his father died.
Hungary is opening up to the West, and the Harwood Company wants to buy properties and begin development of modest apartment buildings. Ernst Kovacs, Tom’s boss, sends Tom to Budapest to initiate plans for the construction of these apartment buildings. At the same time, Tom is anxious to find information about his father's apparent death by a heart attack. His Hungarian partner, Peter Lantos, convinces Tom to participate in a ceremony for the reburial of Imre Nagy in Heroes’ Square. The list of the martyrs includes the name of Tom's father.
Tom needs to know if his father was a true martyr or if he was a monster who did terrible things with the approval of the Communist Party. He met Krisztina Urbán at the library in Miskolc, the town where his parents met and were married. She helped Tom obtain the secret service file for his father. This first document led Tom to Margit Havas. She supplied Tom with a newspaper photo of his father and also the execution order for his death. When Tom viewed the execution order, his whole world collapsed. He now had concrete evidence of his father’s death. Who signed this order? Will Tom be able to avenge his father’s death? Does he want to, or should he leave it in the past?
I loved the historical information included in this book. I also enjoyed the author’s ability to interweave historical facts with the moral dilemma of the people. Readers empathize with the anger, distrust, and sorrow of a people who have lived under Communist oppression for many decades. Can there be justice with so many dead and the same people still in charge of the government, just under different names? The reader must decide.
The only thing that I disliked about the book was the lack of quotation marks. There is no indication of direct speech throughout the entire text. All conversations flow directly into narrative sections and vice versa.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. The author writes compellingly about a time and place in history that she knows well. The struggles of a people who survived the fall of their government and hope for positive change in their country lead the reader to reflect on the final results of socialist and communist-led regimes. Readers of historical fiction will find a wealth of names and facts weaved into the story. History teachers might find this book valuable for its historical value and the debate created about the viability of different types of government. Readers who have no interest in politics or history might find this text too weighty for their liking.
The Budapest Job
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