Café Europa: An Edna Ferber Mystery
Poisoned Pen, May 5 2015, $24.95
In the summer of 1914, as part of her Grand Tour, Edna Ferber, accompanied by her friend British suffragette Winifred Moss, travels to Budapest. Staying in the grungy Hotel Árpád, Edna notices the fear in the eyes of affluent American Cassandra Blaine who soon will marry Austrian Count Frederic in a money-title exchange arranged by her wealthy parents. At the Café Europa Edna, Winifred and Hearst Yellow Journalist Harold Gibbons discuss the once great empire teetering especially in the Balkans, Cassandra and her fiancé, and the current mayor who calls his city “Jewdapest”.
However, not long afterward someone kills Cassandra. Royal Hungarian Police Inspector Horvath leads the official inquiry targeting the victim’s former lover Hungarian Endre Molnár as the only suspect. The two visiting females believe otherwise; and with help from local artists Lajos Tihanyi and Bertalan Por, investigate.
The sixth Edna Ferber historical mystery (see Final Curtain, Downtown Strut and Escape Artist) engages the audience with a fine investigation, a top rate cast and a deep look at the last throes of the Austro-Hungarian Empire just before events spiral out of control. Although the storyline too frequently turns passive with chit chats at the Café, Ed Ifkovic authors an overall absorbing pre WWI Hungarian amateur sleuth.