No Compromise

Original title: Nekompromisně
Publisher: Paseka, Prague, 2019
370 pages
Crime Fiction

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A gripping, complex and frighteningly realistic thriller revolving around elections to the European Parliament and the impact of international conflicts on people’s lives.

The murder of an investigative journalist critical of Russia just before the European elections marks the beginning of a dramatic story that unfolds over the course of a week. From assassins, the trail leads steeply upwards to the highest political circles, but also to the student milieu.  At the forefront is the ambitious Prague politician Štěpán Chytil, who hides the secret of his life behind a façade of respectability. Thanks to the support of influential people, he has risen very high. Failure would have fateful consequences. He tries at all costs to prevent his downfall. Corruption, murder, dubious financing of the election campaign, dirty practices by the secret services: any means will do. But Chytil has a dangerous opponent in his uncompromising nineteen-year-old, radical-minded son Richard. Father and son are fundamentally divided by their different world views.

Elements of detective, thriller and family drama are blended in a suspenseful contemporary story. Procházková constructs a rather dark scenario around Chytil’s dilemma, populated by psychotic killers, secret service agents, criminal bankers, brave female journalists, cheating spouses, political opportunists and a weak police force. Conspiracy also swirls around the fictitious post-Soviet country of Kazmenia.

Only the young students seem to have ideals; they see a moral option in the Kasmenians‘ “fight for freedom”. They radicalise and go to war with conviction. Chytil’s son Richard is one of them. His decision has a huge impact on his father’s political career and also on his mind.

Procházková alternates viewpoints, so we follow the action from the perspective of victims and murderers, journalists, policemen and politicians as well as the young romantics. At the same time, all these characters are three-dimensional and believable; the author constructs a background and personality for them... this is appropriate for a genre whose rules Procházková has mastered perfectly: she is able to create and maintain tension, pace and concern over what happens to the characters.
A brilliantly written thriller. Without sugar-coating, Iva Procházková reveals the negative phenomena and evils that plague modern Czech and Slovak society. You will devour her cross-genre novel from the first to the last page in one go. Corruption that extends to the highest echelons of politics, dirty practices by secret services, murders of inconvenient fellow human beings and dubious sources of funding for election campaigns stand in stark contrast to the fundamental convictions of the protagonists, who appear as fully fleshed-out figures and are superbly drawn psychologically. Is the age-old battle between good and evil just a cliché, or does it still make sense to stand up for the ideals of freedom and democracy today? Iva Procházková doesn't have any pat answers to these questions; in her novel, she merely tries to precisely name what occupies us in the depths of our souls. Iva Procházková forces us to think about things that perhaps already dominate us, even though we are not yet aware of them.
Artúr Soldan, Slovak author, lawyer, literary critic, expert on the secret services

Other books by Iva Procházková

Crime Fiction
Age: 12+, Children's Literature
Age: 12+, Children's Literature