Magnus Torval, a recently retired police officer is on vacation with his fiance, Mariela and is about to get married.
While fishing, he notices something in the bushes and upon further investigation, he realizes that he has found a body in a freshly dug grave.
When Greg Takarchuck, a young police officer in the town, learns of the body, he has two fears. Since his father hasn't been home for two days, he's worried that it might be him and Greg fears, if it is his father, Greg won't be able to investigate the case. Soon after, both fears are realized.
In a story similar to Louise Penny's wonderful "A Rule Against Murder," where the investigator is on a wedding anniversary trip and is pulled into a murder investigation, in this novel, Magnus is supposed to be getting married and has to reassure his fiance that he's not going back on his plans to give up criminal investigations.
There is more to the novel than a simple murder. Greg and his parents are Ukrainians and Pentecostals. When thinking of a reason for the murder, Greg wonders if it could be for religious reasons or because of his father's past military service.
Greg is put on leave from the police department and meets Magnus to discuss the case. Greg tells Magnus about his father's service in the Russian-Afghan War.
Soon after, a Russian businessman arrives and wants to see Greg's father's ledgers. The stranger, Vladislav Ostrovsky, also known as Petrov, tells Greg that he was the supplier of the Russian antiques that Greg's dad sold in his antiques store.
The novel is complex and well told. A number of the characters were members of a Soviet unit in the Russian-Afghan war and while they were on a mission there was an incident that is coming back to haunt them.
It is interesting to learn of the actions of men of the Soviet Union and their experiences in Afghanistan. It serves as a comparison to today's U.S. and NATO forces fighting a war in the mountains of that country.
I enjoyed the novel and learning about a part of Russian history and the background of the artifacts that Greg's father was selling in his store. Part of the action was in the Cascade mountains and this wintry area was well described.
I would have given the book a higher rating but I didn't feel the suspense of the novel and felt that the story could have been condensed to form a more compact thriller.
I think that the message from the author is to be careful because the past can come back to us in ways that we don't want.