A change of pace for today. Adam Lebor, a journalist and author of six non-fiction books (as well as a reader of this blog), sent me a copy of his first novel, The Budapest Protocol (Reportage Press, 2009). It’s a page-turning thriller with a dark plot. Inspired by the Red House Report, a U.S. intelligence document from 1944 that outlined the plans of German industrialists for post-war operations, it delves deep into a conspiracy to establish a fourth Reich across the European Union. This time there is no need for military dominance; with local gendarmerie only too willing to keep troublemakers in check, major German capitalists can buy up media companies, control elections, and perform a little pharmaceutical magic to annihilate the Gypsy population.
Although this is a work of fiction and the main plot may seem a bit strained, the author is knowledgeable about the Hungarian scene. He introduces the reader to a shadowy world and takes him to places in Budapest not in any tour guide. He is not shy about exposing the country’s underbelly of corruption, where money and favors are exchanged for silence about deeds past and present. Throughout the book we encounter acts of provocation, violence, even murder.
Much of the material for this chilling tale comes straight from current Hungarian politics. Anyone with a sense of foreboding about the future of Hungary won’t sleep well after reading The Budapest Protocol. But some restless sleep is a small price to pay for a gripping, haunting read.