Ed Ifkovic,
Edna Ferber #6: Cafe Europa
(Poisoned Press, 2015)

Cafe Europa is a historical-mystery novel, and that description was enough to get me interested. History is one of my passions, and this novel is set in one of my favorite time periods, 1910s Europe. It's part of a series, named for the title character Edna Ferber, although I didn't feel like I needed to read the past novels to enjoy this one. The writing is clear, and the characters are done well enough that, while some subtleties are likely to be enjoyed by fans of the series, newcomers will feel at home picking this up.

Cafe Europa begins when Edna Ferber and her friend, British suffragette Winifred Moss, arrive in Budapest, Hungary, where Edna hopes to escape the clutches of her mother's anxious hands. Her mom wants Edna to marry and have children, but Edna wishes to further her career as a short-story writer.

Winifred and Edna patronize the Cafe Europa, where they meet a host of characters including painters, Russian immigrants, Edna's old friend Harold Gibbon and Cassandra Blaine, a spoiled American heiress to the Colt Firearms Co. who is is set to marry Austrian nobility. Almost instantly, Edna and Winifred are caught up in political turmoil. What follows are murders, interesting characters and an atmospheric setting that separates this novel from the mystery market.

The novel is set in 1914, on the cusp of the First World War, in Budapest, one of the twin capitals of the ailing Austro-Hungarian Empire. The empire, city and era are riddled with intrigue and here are researched considerably well, and the atmospheric details create a city and a time you will not soon forget.

Cafe Europa is a great book. Its story may not be the most original and many of the names may clutter in your head for a while, but overall, there aren't many negatives to take away from it. The atmosphere and setting adds a large amount to the story, and for a history fan such as myself, it made the book much more enjoyable.

book review by
Vlady Kozubnyak

5 September 2015

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