The Russian Passenger

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Press:Consortium Book Sales & Dist Bitter Lemon Press (October 1, 2004)
ISBN:9781904738022
Author Name:Ohnemus, Gunter
Pages:260
Language:English

Content

“At fifty the good Buddhist takes to the road, leaving all his belongings behind. 
His sole possession is a begging bowl.
That’s how it should be.
The problem was, there were four million dollars in my begging bowl and the mafia were after me.
It was their money.
They wanted it back, and they also wanted the girl, the woman who was with me: Sonia Kovalevskaya”.Not only a thriller about murder and big money but also a powerful evocation of the cruel history that binds Russia and Germany.Günter Ohnemus, born in 1946, lives in Munich and writes novels, essays and translations.
This is his first novel to be translated into English.

Tags

Travel,Europe,Germany,Mystery, Thriller & Suspense,Mystery,International Mystery & Crime,Literature & Fiction,Action & Adventure,Crime



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Comment List (Total:6)

  •     I bought this thinking it fell into the noir/mystery/thriller category. To the extent that it does, it does so only for about the first half of the book. The 'mystery' is resolved by then and the remainder of the story takes on a personal rumination theme. To my mind it sort of petered out.
  •     I've been reading Ohnemus for some time now, and am pleased to see his books appearing in French and now English. He's Richard Brautigan's German translator, and some of the spirit--and certain passages (unacknowledged--appear throughout. Also, the Russian passenger is called Sonya Kowalewskaya, which really intrigues me: why does a Russian mafia wife have the name of the famous 19th-century Russian mathematician, the author of the oddly named (in English) "Nihilist Girl"? Ohnemus is familiar at least with her "Recollections from Childhood," as his Sonja relates the tale from Bulwer-Lytton's "Harold" (he of the Battle of Hastings, 1066 and all that) which also appears in the "Recollections." Strange. The book is a good read, some people call it "tense" etc., but really it's better than that--worthy of an academic study, perhaps, not mere entertainment. Although it is very entertaining! Moves about a lot, Germany, France, Italy, America. Might make it to the big screen some time, as a kind of updated road movie of Cary Grant/Audrey Hepburn for our time.
  •     I am very partial to "overseas" mysteries/thrillers....etc. Having read all of Henning Mankell's Inspector Wallender series, the Shanghai detective series (e.g. Death of A Red Heroine, etc.)and learned of Bitter Lemon Press and their activity in translating and publishing foreign mysteries. Well, this is a very well written and very introspective book; and having learned that the author translated much of Richard Brautigan's and Raymond Carver's work into German you can see the influence in his writing style. It's a very suspenseful read with lot's of interesting detours. Would love to read some of the author's other works --if and when they are translated into English.
  •     In Munich, the beautiful but obviously nervous Russian, Sonia Kovalevskaya hails the taxi that fifty years old Harry Willemer drives for a living. She asks him to take her around Munich before dropping her off at the airport to catch a flight to Luxembourg. She explains to Harry that her Russian Mafia husband is after her because she stole four million dollars of their loot.Somehow Sonia's plight touches Harry, who gave up on life twenty-two years ago when he got into a fight with his wife Ellen. Sick of his accusations, she left taking their daughter Jessie with her. Perhaps it was anger that blinded Ellen, but her vehicle crashed into a tree killing Jessie. Harry still blames himself drifting through life as a loner until now.Harry offers to drive her all the way to the ill-gotten money; Sonia accepts knowing that has to be safer than the airport or rails obviously under Mafia surveillance. Not long afterward with goons on their tail and the German police seeking them for questioning involving two dead Russians, Harry and Sonia flee for their lives.This English translation of a tense German thriller grips readers as the chase crosses Europe to America with friends of Harry assisting them; his sudden contacts bring out the pivotal moment that destroyed his life over two decades ago. Sonia is an intriguing protagonist and the antagonists are deliciously evil, but title aside Harry takes the novel above the typical pursuit thriller. He sees Sonia as a chance at some redemption that might relieve him a bit (not totally) from his self flagellation culpability and negative musings.Harriet Klausner
  •     An intense enigma. Starting with a caper-action premise, which is good, the novel (about 1/2 way) becomes very thoughtful and pensive as it studies German-Russian relations and paranoia. The central figure, a man on the run, is an interesting tease from an intelligent writer. A disturbing novel, but you'll long remember it. Socko novel.
  •     This is a beautiful piece of literature disguised as a chase thriller....for thriller readers, there's plenty of that --- up to date plot re Russian Mafia chasing the beautiful Russian wife who runs with $4 million of their money, but that's really just the cover story for a melancholy tale of different kinds of love --- the German taxi driver who picks her up and then takes her to the end of the Earth (Germany all the way to San Francisco) contemplates and suffers his eternal love of ex-wife, his new found love of the young Russian passenger, and the trap of love of a self-centered American whose black hair shaken in the wind is blackbirds flying to the sky....and all this shaped to allow for reading it as an allegory re the relationship between Germany and Russia, Germans and Russians, from WWII to the present. Soft, contemplative, beautiful, wrapped in a page turning thriller...ready for a movie, and hopefully more translations of more of his work while we wait for that movie....
 

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