THE ICE CURTAIN

Robin A. White, Author . Delacorte $24.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-385-33316-0

This bone-chilling thriller set in the waning days of Yeltsin's tenure pits a low-ranking Siberian politico and a Moscow-based FSB (the new KGB) major against the world's most powerful diamond cartel in the best Russian shocker since Martin Cruz Smith's Gorky Park. When diamond miners in the frozen Siberian town of Mirny are killed for protesting months of unpaid wages, Russian Federation delegate Arkady Volsky and his assistant Gregori Nowek travel to Moscow to confront Yevgeny Petrov, director of the State Diamond Committee, and to collect the miners' money. But Petrov doesn't care about the miners—he's sparring with the London-based diamond cartel, threatening to flood the market if they don't meet his price. Volsky's interference gets him shot and Nowak knicked in a hit and run; Volsky gasps "go to the horizon" and expires, and the militia arrests Nowek for his boss's murder. Enter FSB major Izrail Levin, who soon learns from Petrov that the diamonds needed for collateral on an IMF loan review are missing. Levin clears Nowek, recruits him to replace Volsky and sends him back to Mirny to track the diamonds. Danger abounds in the icebound town. Nowek's local ally is killed and Nowek himself is trapped deep in the diamond mines—as the hero tries to get to the bottom of a vast conspiracy, clear Volsky's name and find his killer. White (Siberian Light) keeps the reader on a diamond-sharp edge while lacing his fast-paced prose with black humor, engrossing gem lore and plenty of spilled blood. Surprising plot twists, stoic Russian survivors and a dash of romance add to the heady mix, as do the hints of another Nowek tale to come. (Feb. 5)

Reviewed on: 02/04/2002
Release date: 01/01/2002
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