The Prague Coup

Written by Jean-Luc Fromental Miles Hyman
Review by Alan Fisk

Former debutante, aspiring actress, and intelligence officer Elizabeth Montagu, now working for Alexander Korda films, is in snowy and gloomy postwar Vienna in 1948. Korda has assigned Elizabeth to guide the author Graham Greene, who is planning to write the script for a film set in Vienna.

In this environment, sinister characters are everywhere, such as Bud Boots, formerly of the OSS, but now working for Life magazine, and possibly also as an agent for the new CIA. Several of these shady types are interested in Greene, following him and spying on him. Greene is seeking a suitable criminal activity for the main character in his planned film script. After expert local advice, Greene settles on the trade in adulterated and outdated penicillin, a big and deadly business at the time. After a series of deaths and other complications, the main characters move on to Prague, a city about to fall under a Communist coup.

The story seems to end in a dramatic and fatal confrontation, but revelations in later years lead Elizabeth to see the whole episode in a different light. Meanwhile, of course, The Third Man becomes a successful film. The Prague Coup is a fast-moving, absorbing story. If you’ve never read a graphic novel, this might be a good one to start with, but be warned: it’s not a “comic book”, and it’s not for children.