The Widow Killer, by Pavel Kohout
I've been reading this book forever, or at least that's what it feels like! Despite being a quite exciting murder mystery/thriller set in Prague at the end of World War II, I had a hard time getting into the story and was very slow about reading it. It was good, though.
We follow three men: Jan Morava, young Czech detective in occupied Prague, Erwin Buback, disillusioned Gestapo agent, and the murderer himself, who is a serial killer insanely obsessed with widows. Over the months it takes for the case to unfold, the Russians move ever closer to the city and both Jan and Buback find love. The killer just finds new victims and drives poor Jan mad with frustration.
It's a long, intricate story and I was glad I read it, slowly though I went. I partly grabbed the book because of the author; Kohout was a Czech Communist who became a dissident -- a leader of the 1968 Prague Spring, expelled from the Party and the country, and one of the architects of Charta 77, along with Václav Havel and others. Kohout is still around today and has written poetry and plays as well as novels. So I was intrigued by that and wanted to see what he had to say.