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Vilmos Kondor
( 1954 )


Vilmos Kondor, the author of a series of “Budapest novels”, was born in 1954, but much of his life is shrouded in mystery, for he rarely makes public appearances and can only be contacted through his publisher, which had led to speculations about his identity, and that the name is merely a pseudonym. According to press releases, Kondor began his studies in Szeged and completed them in Paris, earning a degree in chemical engineering. He currently resides in Western Hungary in a village near Sopron, where he works as a high school mathematics and physics teacher.
Kondor’s first novel, Budapest Noir, which was published in 2008, takes the reader on a journey into Hungary during the interwar years. In it, his main protagonist, Zsigmond Gordon, makes his fi rst appearance. The Gordon of his Budapest novels is in the traditional sense a journalist
with contacts in the underworld as well as high society, a formidable right hook, and short, ironic sentences, characteristics that distinguish him as clearly as Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Philip Marlowe and Steve Carella are distinguished by their character traits. In Kondor’s novels,
however, the city of Budapest vies for attention with the main character. It is, in fact, something of a protagonist in its own right – a living, bustling, town of many faces that rivets our attention. Be that
as it may, Vilmos Kondor’s works walk the line between the hardboiled detective novel and historical crime fiction.

Budapest in November

Vilmos Kondor’s novel Budapest novemberben (Budapest in November) is the fifth and final piece in the author’s detective quintet, each of which features the same protagonist and is based in Budapest, the Hungarian capital. Budapest novemberben begins in the fall of 1956 in Vienna, where Zsigmond Gordon fl ed in 1947 as a result of pressure from the state security apparatus. A girl is found dead in his sublet apartment, and according to her ID papers, she is Gordon’s adopted daughter, Emma. However, upon visiting the morgue, Gordon is relieved to discover that the murder victim is not in fact Emma, though he quickly deduces that this means she is in trouble. Th erefore, along with his companion, Krisztina, he returns to Budapest under an assumed name in pursuit of Emma just days before the outbreak of the revolution. His unsanctioned investigation soon leads him to the revolutionaries fi ghting at Köztársaság Square, the underworld fi gures taking advantage of the situation, and to the state security agents who are trying to hinder both Gordon and the revolutionaries. Gordon’s exciting and danger-fi lled investigation is enriched for the reader by the presence of Budapest described in lush detail and steeped in history, inhabited by fascinating characters and swept by social and political currents. It is against this backdrop that the fates of the characters evolve and come to a resolution. Th e narration of the investigation and the events of 1956 are interdependent, thus off ering interesting reading about the disappearance of a girl and the apparent victory of a people’s uprising before it is suddenly and brutally crushed.

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