Saturday, January 5, 2019

The Prague Coup

The Prague Coup has a lot going on. It's a crime noir set in a specific historical context, following the movements of author/ex?-spy Graham Greene as he deals with various shady characters in Prague in 1948, when the formerly democratic Czechoslovakia became a communist state. Ostensibly there to research the area for his screenplay for now considered classic film The Third Man, Greene also dabbles in politics, clandestine entertainments, and at least one extramarital affair. I think knowing a lot about the historical context as well as Greene's life and/or the plot of The Third Man would help a reader out, but they are not essential for enjoying this book.
What helped make matters more plain and understandable is that the plot is told from the viewpoint of Elizabeth Montagu, a former actress and ex-spy who guided Greene to various underground spots in Prague. She has her own intentions and a complex set of personal connections, which all combine for some gripping drama and tense cloak and dagger action. All of this story is complemented by the photo-realistic artwork that grounds the book in a grainy, shadowy reality that echoes the look and feel of The Third Man.
This book is a collaboration between writer Jean-Luc Fromental and artist Miles Hyman. Fromental is a translator, script-writer, and author with many books for both adults and children to his credit. Hyman has drawn various comics over the years and also exhibits his art throughout Europe. Both creators speak about their work on this book in this interview.

All of the reviews I have read of this book have been positive. Publishers Weekly concluded, "This example of art imitating life should captivate lovers of spy fiction or Cold War history." Benjamin Welton wrote, "The Prague Coup has everything fans of The Third Man could want—an exploration of Vienna’s extensive sewer system, gunplay, a mysterious plot with international implications, and plenty of witty banter about art, faith, love, sex, and loyalty."

The Prague Coup was published by Hard Case Crime/Titan Books, and they offer more info and a preview here. This book features some nudity and violence, so I recommend it for readers mature enough to deal with those things.

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