Sunday, December 6, 2020

Underneath it all Runs the River of Sadness, by Oto Oltvanji

"Underneath it all Runs the River of Sadness," by Oto Oltvanji, in Belgrade Noir, edited by  Milorad Ivanovic, Akashic Press, 2020.

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."  So said Ralph Waldo Emerson.  

I wanted to begin with that because I have often criticized the fine folks at Akashic Press - who sent me a free copy of this book - for including stories in their Noir Cities series that are not noir.  But here I am about to praise a story that also misses the noir mark.

I'm inconsistent.  So sue me.  But this is a fine, sweet, story.

Ranko and Kozma are neighbors and old friends.  Kozma is the troublemaker.  As a cop he did little but paperwork and now, in retirement, he is desperate to actually solve a crime for once.  His attempts to find villainy where there may be none has gotten him into hot water with the police and the neighborhood.

But now, just maybe, he could be onto something.  There's a man on the fourth floor, he tells Ranko, who keeps bringing young women to his apartment.  Nothing wrong with that, except they never come out.  

So the two old men start spying on the young man, and things get complicated.  There is a crime involved, no doubt about that, but what makes the story so charming is the way seemingly unrelated pieces fit together like a jigsaw puzzle to make a satisfactory whole. 


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