The Loop

Nik Gowing, Author St. Martin's Press $22.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-312-13116-6
British TV journalist Gowing focuses his second novel on a new and popular theme in thrillerdom-the struggle between remnants of the old Communist apparat and the Russian mafia for control of the former Soviet Union. What results is an often overwrought tale of betrayal, peopled by generally unlikable characters. The action begins at a lightning-fast-and confusing-pace as KGB Colonel Oleg Ivanovich Polyakov, sent to Uzbekistan to confront a gang boss over missing Russian gold, is kidnapped twice, caught in a bloody car hijacking, involved in an explosive attack on the gangster's headquarters and whacked on the back of the head before returning to Moscow on a hospital stretcher. Momentarily deemed a hero, the colonel is, within 24 hours, dismissed from the KGB in apparent disgrace. Then his former superior, General Viktor Petrovich Marchenko, proceeds to have him seduced by the lovely Major Natasha Trofimenka, a former lover of both men. Not until Polyakov is kidnapped again will most readers begin to make some sense of all this. Throughout the story, moreover, Gowing too often tells what his characters are feeling and thinking rather that letting their actions speak for themselves. He does seem to know his subject-the narrative bristles with authentic detail about the new Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan-but this yarn isn't on a par with his debut novel, The Wire. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/1995
Release date: 08/01/1995
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 978-0-09-174991-0
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