cover image The Oligarch’s Wife

The Oligarch’s Wife

Anna Blundy. Arrow (IPG, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (340p) ISBN 978-1-84809-084-2

In this uneven stand-alone from Blundy, author of the Faith Zanetti thriller series (Breaking Faith, etc.), a love triangle forms amid the corruption and uncertainty of postcommunist Russia. While on a school trip to Moscow in 1986, Londoner Mo befriends two Russian teens working to support their families back home in Siberia: Pavel, a black market vodka dealer, and Katya, a call girl. Ten years later, Mo, now a journalist, lands an interview with Pavel, now one of the richest men in Russia. He’s still charming, and Mo falls hard for him, but she has a rival for his affections in Katya. Though Pavel often hints at a dark past, neither woman is fully aware of the terrible things he’s done along the road to success, or what he’s willing to do to preserve the status quo. Gradually, Mo and Katya begin to understand the true nature of the man they love and realize that they must work together to become truly free of him. While Blundy deftly navigates a seldom explored setting with vivid imagery, her characters are either bland caricatures or completely unsympathetic. Sporadic and incongruous outbursts of ultraviolence and a late tacked-on twist upset the pacing. Readers seeking an action-packed thriller or a poignant love story will come up short on both counts. (Oct.)