When I need an escape and cannot openly read a book, I whip out my headphones and press play on my Audible app.
Easily in my top 5.
It was difficult to follow the beginning since it was jumping to different times and frames of reference. However, the author did a really great job weaving all these pieces together to form a cohesive story.
Leo, the main character
I have always been fascinated with Communist Russia and Eastern Germany. I think the author's willingness to be true to the time period and to fit a story into the inner-workings of Communist Russia was a great idea. This concept was my favorite part of the book.
This story was so well-paced that it gave me plenty of time to understand the motivations of all the characters. The danger and the action felt nice and tense. The "thought device" helped pull into a time/place I knew little about. Narrator was true to tone of the book.
The audio's butchering of common Russian names drove me bonkers (pronouncing Russian names by what I have to assume are Spanish rules?), and the bad Russian accent (why bother?) for dialogue didn't help. The story itself was bleak but engaging. Felt a *bit* like anti-communist propaganda at times with how hard it drove home the corruption/misery angle, but eh. It made for a decent setting for the story.
This is a very good muster story set in the USSR right after Stalin's death. While there is nothing specifically written about the government, the story's setting gives a good description of what life must have been like during this period. The mystery is well crafted and I didn't see the ending at all.
The performance was also well done with good accents and I felt I was listening to a Russian telling me the story in English with a strong Russian accent.
33 year-old pharmacist, organic chemist and musician.
I went as far as 6 hours into this book before I decided had enough. While some historical details and settings are accurate (as far as I know, being interested in the subject of the USSR during and after Stalin), the sterotypes portrayed in the novel are so boring and the main characters are completely un-believable.
Picture an MGB officer who's been denunciated by someone under the chain of command in order to get a promotion after said agent is found guilty of being a spy and shot. Now picture this same MGB officer pondering whether or not he should try to convince his superiors he did nothing wrong. Let's accept the fact he neither gets shot on the spot, nor gets sent in exile to a camp in Siberia (for some reason). Instead he gets demoted and is forced to join the local militia in an industrial city in the Urals. Upon moving into the city, he starts questioning an official state report concerning the murder of a young teenager and decides to re-open the investigation on his own. When his boss finds out, he proceed to warn not to do any harm to his reputation or that of the men under his command or else he'll kill him. This isn't Harry Bosch ladies and gentlemen, this is Soviet Russia right after the passing of Stalin.
And that's when I stopped reading. The characters and what they touch/who they talk with are so blatantly Westernized it's laughable. I can only imagine the ex-MGB officer fleeing from his old co-workers in a ZIL limousine stolen from a PolitBuro member, dodging in between the statues of Josef Stalin and the endless queues of grim Soviet citizens waiting in front of a state-owned grocery store for a piece of bread or a few drops of cooking oil while supersonic Tupolev bombers fly in formation over the Kremlin to attack the rebel agent on specific orders of the Secretary General of the Party.
If you are looking for good USSR historical fiction, look elsewhere.
I like the 1984 crossed with Dragon Tattoo aspect, with a little Gorky Park, and Silence of the Lambs, and Fatherland and episodic structure a bit like Red October with the movement in time and place.
this is a good mystery thriller/detective story and does it's job effectively. I can't rave about it due to fact it does ultimately follow the template of mystery/thriller genre (serial killer, clues, doubters, race against time) and though it doesn't do anything exceptional it does have some good characters, (couple of very good villains who are not the murderer). there are some formulaic aspects, but there are a few surprises along the way.
one thing i liked was that there are very few good guys actually, and a case could be made that there are none. this is partially due to the people being stuck in the repressive society which dictates their actions and controls their thinking.
actually, my favorite thing about this is the depiction of life within a dictatorship and the methods by which those at the top control everyone and information and the daily life struggle just to survive when you can't trust anyone. i think that part of the story was more engaging to me than the mystery part, actually there are a couple things regarding that i found to be a bit forced and too coincidental for my taste. but it is a page turner in many ways.
& it does seem at least to be well researched and author seems to be knowledgeable about Russia and it's political situation at the time. it appears to be the start of what might be a good detective series based in Russia of the 50s and 60s
Life in the USSR under Stalin is the backdrop for this mystery. I really enjoyed the history lesson, story, characters, and narrator. I highly recommend this book and will leave all the accolades to the literary critics. All the positives are right on!!!
I love listening to audiobooks especially Spy thrillers (Daniel Silva type books) and business books (Steve Jobs autobiography as an eg)
I didn't quite get the start of the book. But then had an "Ah Ha" moment, once i realized how Leo and Andre tied in together
The moment when things become clear - around 70% into the book.
The moment when Leo and Andre meet
Murder along the Trans-siberian Express
It was rather sad the way the book ended. I felt sad that Leo never tried looking up his younger brother who had to resort to an alternate route to find Leo.
I just could not stand the ridiculous "russian-english" read by Dennis Boutsikaris in every dialogue. Maybe it is just me, but why should a genuine Russian has to sound like someone with strong Slavic accent speaking English??! Hello, they are Russian!! They don't have accent when they speak their language...(of course.. If we bravely assume that they spoke Russian in Russia- not broken English)!