Waiting for the fall

Saying that a novel is a screenplay is usually considered a slur, but not in the case of “Gypsy Hearts,” a gripping, sometime sleazy Euro-thriller set in post-Cold War Prague by expatriate Robert M. Eversz.

The sleaze is provided on two fronts: by a city caught in the backwash of change after the downfall of the Soviet Union, and the novel’s protagonist, a self-proclaimed film producer and screenwriter more on the make for money and women than a story.

Alfred Hitchcock, in his later films, built his films around flawed or morally ambiguous heroes and heroines — remember the embezzler Janet Leigh in “Psycho”? — and Richard Milhous “Nix” Miller, with his smooth lines and con-man dreams, is an ideal chump waiting to be hoisted on his own petard. In the best noir tradition, Miller falls in love and lust with a beautiful gypsy woman, and his destruction seems so assured that all readers have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride.