Moscow Magician: A Thriller

John Moody, Author St. Martin's Press $17.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-312-05473-1
Moody's exciting and intelligent first novel is set in post- glasnost Russia, still a dreary, authoritarian country where the goals of the average citizen extend no farther than doing a little better than the system permits, while steering well clear of official scrutiny. A paragon at existing in this economic and political climate, Moscovite Viktor Nikolaich Melanov is a ``fixer.'' Goodnatured and charming, he knows everyone, can procure anything. But after the usually circumspect Viktor cracks an offhand joke to a guard at the American Embassy, his life becomes a nightmare. Following the suicide of a co-worker, Viktor is brought for interrogation to the sadistic, brutal Col. Karushkin of the KGB. Temporarily released, but aware of what lies ahead, Viktor leaves his wife and daughter and seeks asylum with his Jewish friend Sushkin. Together they plan to escape from the Soviet Union via a seemingly impossible feat. Their ingenious efforts, the places they go and the colorful people they encounter form the core of this intriguing thriller. The dialogue is always engaging; the characterizations, physical descriptions and plot development of high standard. The contrasts of Russia--cruelty and kindness, beauty and bestiality--are depicted in starkly realistic terms. This thought-provoking story makes one wonder whether the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. really share any basic values despite the apparent end of the Cold War. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
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