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Skvorecky, Josef
Toronto, Lester & Open Dennys, 1990. 192pp, paper, $14.95, ISBN 0-88619-261-7. CIP


Reviewed by Ted Monkhouse

Volume 18 Number 5
1990 September

Winner of the 1980 Neustadt Prize for Literature and the 1984 Governor General's Award, Skvorecky is at present a professor of English at Erindale College, University of Toronto. He also operates, with his wife, 68 Publishers, a Czech language publishing house in Toronto. This novel was translated and adapted by Paul Wilson from the 1981 Czech language original.

Lt. Boruvka is a former Czech detective who left Prague and is now a parking lot attendant in Toronto. His daughter works in a feminist detective agency owned by the lover of the book's neophyte amateur "detective," Bondy.

Bondy's sister is murdered. Her lifestyle could have easily led to this, but it could also be a case of mistaken identity in an internationally planned murder stemming from the last war. A potpourri of central European characters people this novel and their favourite haunts, The Old English Pub in Toronto and the Savoy hotel in Kitchener. The hero, Bondy, eventually figures it out but Lt. Boruvka is the real hero.

What is unusual about this murder story is a serious lack of police presence. There are several dead bodies as the plot evolves but the police play a minor role in the story. The book's characters somehow seem immune to police meddling.

A rainy-day read at one sitting for murder mystery buffs or fans of Lt. Boruvka.

Ted Monkhouse, Guelph, Ont.

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