cover image The Russian Pink

The Russian Pink

Matthew Hart. Pegasus Crime, $25.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-64313-550-2

Journalist Hart (Diamond) makes his fiction debut with an intriguing if convoluted spy thriller that explores the deadly side of the international diamond trade. Alex Turner, a former CIA officer turned Department of Treasury agent, doesn’t know whom to trust when an investigation lands him in the middle of a conspiracy involving a billionaire U.S. presidential candidate, a consortium of Russian oligarchs, and a mysterious 464-carat diamond known as the Russian Pink, which turns up around the neck of the presidential candidate’s wife. Alex joins forces with an opportunistic Russian double agent to hunt down the gem’s source, which takes them from Europe’s semilegitimate diamond markets to Africa’s blood diamond mines. Hart’s view of the diamond trade rings true, but his picture of the inner workings of national-level intelligence and law enforcement lacks the same depth. The plethora of characters slows the action, and he tends to tell rather than show, with many of the major plot beats explained after the fact. The original premise and assured prose suggest he’s capable of doing better next time. Agent: Michael Carlisle, InkWell Management. (Nov.)