Recently we've seen a slew of books based in Stalin era Russia, and involving murders and mysteries. "Child 44" immediately comes to mind, among others. This book also takes place in Russia, in 1936, right before Stalin initiated the great party purges, and millions disappeared forever.
The protagonist of this story is a detective Captain in the Militia, whose job it is to investigate and solve crimes. The Militia, as was the Cheka, was not loved by the average citizen, because they believed that these organizations merely carried out orders, often brutal, that targeted those who didn't think or act the way the regime felt that they should. The Captain is somewhat different from the usual Soviet police person, in that he is not disillusioned by Stalin's regime, but supports it, and expects it to eventually become the norm all over the world. Having said this, he is not the type of person who deliberately tortures or arrests someone for their unpopular beliefs, as he is a Believer, that is a person who still has religious inclinations even at that time.
The plot begins with the brutal murder of a young woman in a deconsecrated church, and moves on from there. It's a thrilling plot, and involves many people, including the writer Isaac Babel. There are many byways and dead ends in the plot, and not everyone the hero encounters is who or what they appear to be at first glance. As the book progresses, the hero begins to believe that he has been deliberately chosen to fail in his investigation, and ultimately to take the blame for this failure, while others succeed in what they are doing, or planning to do.
The author creates a very believable Stalinist Russia, and a gritty Moscow. The reader turns the pages quickly in order to see what is going to happen next. This is a first novel by this promising author, and I sincerely hope that he writes future books concerning his Russian character. I, for one, will certainly look forward to any new books from him.
Ryan's novel is set in Moscow 1936, where Captain Alexei Korolev, a veteran of the Revolution and member of the Moscow Militia's Criminal Investigation Unit is assigned the case of a murdered and mutilated young woman. Once the body is identified, the case takes on a life of its own, every aspect fraught with political implications as Korolev and his new assistant, Semionov, are led from one mutilated body to another. But the real tension in this novel comes from the strained atmosphere of Stalin's … more
I'm a small town general practice attorney in the hard coal region of Pennsylvania. Books are my passion, andI read as many of them asI can. Being the President of the local library board for over … more
Consider the Source
Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.