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The Last Hundred Days

by Patrick McGuinness

The bleak, paranoid atmosphere of Ceausescu's regime in Romania is evoked as authentically as only someone who was there could make it. This semi-fictional narrative relates the final days of a corrupt, decaying society, where racketeering and trafficking flourish, and playing the system is necessary for survival. Under constant surveillance, everyone has hidden motives and no-one is to be trusted - a fine recipe for gripping, chilling suspense.

Extract

Early mornings unnerved me: there was never anyone on the streets, but the criss-crossed footsteps testified to there having been some small-hours rush hour in the blue light, when hundreds of people had walked or run to work or stood and waited for their transport. You felt crowded out but alone – perfect police state weather. Leo told me after the first frosts: 'The Cold War, ever wondered why they called it that? It’s not just all that bollocks about icy relations between East and West. The cold is a weapon here, they use it just like they’d use a gun or water cannon ... you remember what Napoleon said about being defeated by General Midwinter? Well around here Winter’s a colonel in the Securitate ....'

Parallels

The Third Man by Graham Greene
The Balkan Trilogy by Olivia Manning
The Castle by Kafka
 

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