Ryan, William - The Bloody Meadow
Set in Russia in the 1930s, this is the second book by William Ryan and also his second to feature Captain Alexei Korolev, a very far-from-ordinary detective working in Moscow. Korolev is a gifted detective and skilled at digging out the perpetrators of the various killings that seem commonplace in 1930s Moscow. What sets him apart from his peers is that he is more likely to ask suspects questions than beat them up and presume they are guilty with insufficient evidence. He is also the possessor of a dodgy past. This past is not revealed in THE BLOODY MEADOW but we are told that it is sufficiently serious for him, and his loved ones, to be jailed if it ever comes to the attention of the authorities. Korolev is a highly likeable and very human character whose own worries and doubts are made very obvious to the reader. You feel an instant liking for him and want him to succeed.
In this particular case, he is rudely woken in the middle of the night and, suspecting the worst, taken away by members of State Security. His luck hasnít run out yet, though, because he is wanted to solve a politically delicate murder that has been staged to look like suicide. Almost before he knows what is happening, Korolev is bundled onto a plane and flown southwards, under the pretext of being on holiday, to spend a few weeks with the colleagues of the murder victim and find out what has happened. He soon finds himself surrounded by traitors, betrayal and more than one person who could be the guilty party...
An excellent and well-written book about an extremely interesting character, THE BLOODY MEADOW reads very much like a standard police procedural but is full of interesting people and gives a fascinating insight into life in communist Russia in the 1930s.
Very highly recommended.
Amanda C M Gillies, Scotland