The death of Phillip Kerr left a hole in my reading of historical novels. His principal character, Bernie Gunther,1 a Berlin policeman becomes embedded in the Nazi regime whilst maintaining his integrity (sort of). Ryan’s Moscow Noir novels are set in the same period with Stalin’s USSR’s reign of terror co-existing with ‘normal’ policing.
Captain Alexei Korolev is called on to investigate a gruesome murder. This is unfortunate for him because the victim is American. Stalin’s version of the SS the NKVD is automatically called upon when foreign nationals are involved. But on this occasion the victim is one of a series of murders and they’re all implicated in smuggling Holy artefacts to the USA. Worse: a senior officer of the NKVD is orchestrating the smuggling.
Ryan’s book is replete with authentic detail (his end-notes read like a PhD booklist) and it’s a wonderfully exciting story brilliantly well written. I look forward to reading the next Korolev novels in this series.
£2.99 on Kindle
1 Try Kerr’s March Violets the first in the series of Gunther novels