Set in an anonymous Eastern European country a few years after the end of World War II, The Bridge of Sighs is the debut of novelist Olen Steinhauer, who chronicles the first case of 22-year-old rookie detective Emil Brod. At first, the use of a fictitious country seems a bit strange to someone like myself who has been to Eastern Europe but, admittedly, is not an expert in the geography of that region. (Steinhauer wrote this book while on a Fullbright Fellowship in Romania and that country obviously gave him inspiration.) However, when you think about it, the use of a fictional country is a smart move in that it allowed the first-time novelist to concentrate on his story, rather than the endless research needed to properly document the political and culture history of a real country. Instead, Steinhauer’s creation is a melting pot of characters from several different countries who interact with Brod during his murder investigation. Brod grows as both a man and detective during this story. And he slowly earns the admiration of his colleagues, even the mysterious Brano Sev, a state security officer attached to the homicide unit. Just like Brod on his first case, Steinhauer shines in his debut. The Bridge of Sighs is a trip worth taking, especially if you like European and war history, as well as detective fiction — together in one book.