emmuska_kivalasztott300Zsolt Győrei – Csaba Schlachtovszky
Novel (Libri), 2013, 530 pages

A comic, historical murder mystery

The world-famous writer of Hungarian origin, Baroness Emma Orczy, stars in this exciting and entertaining historical mystery novel as she leaves London with her English husband to visit her homeland in order to uncover a crime, which gives us a great opportunity to submerge ourselves in the historical and social changes in Hungary occurring at the end of the nineteenth century. Set in the captivating environment of old-world Hungary, we not only accompany our heroine through her criminal investigation, but also see her finding happiness in the end.

The plot is partly inspired by “Emmuska’s” own eventful life, while it also revives and redefines characters and motifs from her most popular novel, The Scarlet Pimpernel, which has been translated into fourteen languages, and has been adapted for over thirty motion pictures and one musical.

The couleur locale of Hungary appears as a background of the spectacular and grand adventures of Emmuska, who must prevent a mad ice-manufacturer from assassinating Emperor Franz Joseph in her native country. Poisonous dulcimers, grim highwaymen, floating ice blocks on the river Tisza at summertime, as well as the magnificent Millennial Exhibition in Budapest celebrating the thousand-year-old Hungarian state – these serve as a rich background to the detective story.

The novel is based on a very particular narrative structure. Instead of finding a single narrator, we can hear minor and major characters comment on the details of the story from their own perspective. Diverse members of society are afforded the chance to express their opions, from the the village postmaster and a Winnetou-loving teacher to the high nobility, including Franz Joseph and his queen, Sisi. As a result, a kaleidoscope of diverse perspectives creates a text employing a multiplicity of linguistic styles.


“This book has everything – from self irony to social criticism, from comic dialogues to heavyweight inner monologues, from fairytale adventures to real thrills – that can make a novel a masterpiece.”
Ádám Lénárt, Revizor Online

“Murder, erotics, a storytelling stork, all the crowds and colours of the millennial celebrations of Budapest in 1896, historical and fictional characters, but most of all, a fair amount of humour is what makes the novel of Zsolt Győrei and Csaba Schlachtovszky a unique experience.”
Eszter Margit Zabolai, kultura.hu

“It evoked for me the movies of Mel Brooks and the Monty Python films. It would be quite hard to describe the novel with recourse to only one genre, because it is more of a pastiche of multiple, intertwined genres: elements of the detective novel, the travelogue, the romance novel, the adventure novel, the memoir and even those of blog posts can be found in there, but all of that still makes an organic whole in the end.”
Ádám Gaborják, Népszabadság Online


libri_MG_3353Zsolt Győrei and Csaba Schlachtovszky were both born in 1970 in Budapest. They became acquainted in elementary school at the age of six, and since then they have exerted a strong influence on each other’s intellenctual and spiritual development. The fruits of their literary enterprise – which include poetry and prose, scripts and musical libretti, tragicomedies and cabaret shows – have been published in several journals and two drama books. Today Győrei is a professor at the Hungarian University of Theatre, Film and Television, while Schlachtovszky earns his living as a script editor of a drama series for television. However, all these obligations could not prevent them from writing their first voluminous adventure novel. More on the authors

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