"If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country."
--E. M. Forster
Through seven previous novels, Reggie Nadelson has created one of the more memorable characters in detective fiction: Artie Cohen, New York police detective and first-generation American with complex ties to his Russian past, especially his close friendship with the enigmatic and flamboyant New York/London club owner Tolya Sverdloff.Now, in Londongrad, by far Nadelson's most ambitious novel to date, Artie is faced with a murder that strikes at him personally and will ultimately place his best friends life in his hands as it challenges his own loyalty.
In a playground in Brooklyn, Artie is led to a dead girl tied up in duct tape on a childrens swing. He soon realizes the killer murdered the wrong girl - the intended victim was Valentina Sverdloff, Tolya's daughter, long adored by Artie. Artie flies to London to tell Tolya and finds himself enmeshed on his friend's behalf in a maelstrom of Russian money and crime.
Like Berlin at the end of World War II, somebody tells Artie, Londongrad, as its known, has become an offshore island for the new Russian underworld. Over his head, Artie is drawn further in, to Moscow, where, balancing between the old KGB and the new FSB, between the dazzle and grimness of Russia today, he uncovers a painful truth about his past that puts Tolya's life in the balance.
Whenever I read Reggie Nadelson's stories, I get political lessons, historical information and characters who are richly crafted. This book has plots, subplots, texture and a terrific story. As usual, Artie Cohen confronts a moral dilemma or two.
I always read everything she writes. Now, that's a recommendation!!
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