Set in 1936, Ryan's impressive debut introduces Capt. Alexei Korolev of the Moscow Militia's Criminal Investigation Division, who looks into the murder of a young woman found butchered in a church. Signs of torture suggest the killer may have been trying to get information out of the victim. Colonel Gregorin, an NKVD officer who takes an interest in the case, believes the crime has "a political element." With Gregorin's help, the captain identifies the woman as an American nun, who may have been involved with smuggling valuables out of the Soviet Union for sale abroad. After a second similar murder, Korolev enlists the help of a motley assortment of allies, including a contingent of would-be Baker Street Irregulars and acclaimed writer Isaac Babel. Ryan, who merits comparison to Tom Rob Smith, makes palpable the perpetual state of fear of being reported as disloyal, besides dramatizing the difficulty of being an honest cop in a repressive police state. Readers will hope Korolev has a long career ahead of him. 125,000 first printing; author tour. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/14/2010 Release date: 08/01/2010 Genre: Fiction
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