In Plain Sight.

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  • Author(s): Pitt, David
  • Source:
    Booklist. 9/15/2010, Vol. 107 Issue 2, p32. 1p.
  • Document Type:
    Book Review


Booklist Reviews 2010 September #2

Fans of Philip Kerr, Tom Rob Smith, and Olen Steinhauer have a treat in store with this strong period thriller from British debut author Ryan. Like Kerr's Bernie Gunther, committed to solving crimes in 1930s Berlin, even when his investigations implicate Nazi thugs, so Ryan's hero, Captain Alexei Korolev of Moscow's Criminal Investigative Division, bucks resistance from Stalin's party-liners in 1936 Russia. The case that causes trouble here is the murder of a young woman, whose mutilated body is found displayed on an altar in one of Moscow's "deconsecrated" churches. The political angle to the crime sharpens when Korolev determines that the victim was an American nun who may have been involved in smuggling religious icons out of the Soviet Union. The plot gets a bit convoluted, with the main icon taking on a Maltese Falcon–like status, but the period detail is impeccable, and Korolev has the makings of a great character; like Steinhauer's Bruno Sev and Martin Cruz Smith's Arkady Renko, he is committed to ferreting out truth in a world defined by institutional falsehood. A series to watch very closely.

LJ Reviews 2010 July #1

Strong and stern, Captain Korolev solves murders for Moscow's Criminal Investigation Division. In 1936, his successful efforts earn him an unenviable assignment-a tortured female corpse has been found in a former church that is now home to a Komsomol (youth wing of the Communist Party) group. Responding to Stalin's increasing paranoia, the city's population turns inward lest a careless joke result in harsh exile. Korolev has to look for allies in unlikely places. He enlists thieves, street kids, and Isaac Babel as his confederates in his gruesome quest for the perpetrators. Ryan re-creates the toxic, terrorized atmosphere by plunging Korolev into a ghastly web where nothing is what it seems. Verdict In his solitude and resolve, Ryan's Korolev evokes Martin Cruz Smith's fierce Arkady Renko, while the period detail and gore call to mind Tom Rob Smith. Ryan's first novel will be released with a tsunami of marketing, so readers in public libraries will be lengthening the reserve lists for this remarkable thriller. [125,000-copy first printing; previewed in Wilda Williams's "Passport to Mystery," LJ 4/15/10; see also author Q&A in 4/8/10 BookSmack!]-Barbara Conaty, Falls Church, VA Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

PW Reviews 2010 June #2

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.)

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