Moscow, 1936, and Stalin's Great Terror is beginning. In a deconsecrated church, a young woman is found dead, her mutilated body displayed on the altar for all to see. Captain Alexei Korolev, finally beginning to enjoy the benefits of his success with the Criminal Investigation Division of the Moscow Militia, is asked to investigate. But when he discovers that the victim is an American citizen, the NKVD-the most feared organization in Russia-becomes involved. Soon, Korolev's every step is under close scrutiny and one false move will mean exile to The Zone, where enemies of the Soviet State, both real and imagined, meet their fate in the frozen camps of the far north. Committed to uncovering the truth behind the gruesome murder, Korolev enters the realm of the Thieves, rulers of Moscow's underworld. As more bodies are discovered and pressure from above builds, Korolev begins to question who he can trust and who, in a Russia where fear, uncertainty and hunger prevail, are the real criminals. Soon, Korolev will find not only his moral and political ideals threatened, but also his life. William Ryan's remarkable debut will storm into ten countries in what is sure to be an international publishing event. With Captain Alexei Korolev, William Ryan has given us one of the most compelling detectives in modern literature, a man dogged and humble, a man who will lead us through a fear-choked Russia to find the only thing that can save him or any of us - the truth.
Includes a bonus interview with the author.
©2010 William Ryan (P)2010 Macmillan Audio
Really loved the way the author captured the pre-war communist fervor in Moscow. He masterfully portrays the uneasiness of the city, and the fear in which most citizens lived their lives. Will my neighbor tell lies to the secret police just because he doesn't like me? Will he tell them I am a secret capitalist. Will I get sent to the zone? Scary stuff. Putting a mystery in the era was a really fresh idea.
A great new series. Only two complaints first - since he isn't Russian I would be careful about taking what he says about Soviet and especially post Soviet (from the interview at the end of the book) life as definitely true. Also, it seemed like he couldn't quite make the mystery long enough so he drew out the end of the book with lots of captures. Otherwise this was very entertaining and I will definitely read the next one. As for the reading - usually I don't like Simon Vance because he makes me sleepy but he was a great fit for this book.
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