Jane C. (Brighton, MI)
I enjoyed the book, quick read. Character development was well done. Not a book that I would have picked up at the store, but am glad that I had the opportunity to read about historical Russia. Solving the murder takes very interesting turns through rural Russia, with the help of a Moscow detective.
Sarah C. (Cape Girardeau, MO)
The Darkening Field by William Ryan
What a Fun read! it is not everyday you get a chance to read a classic western/mystery/thriller and historical fiction all rolled into one. It was a little work keeping the names straight, but well worth it. Highlights a difficult era in our past in a way that makes no apologies, and is entertaining.
Barbara E. (rockville, MD)
The Darkening Field
I would highly recommend this mystery. Set in 1937 in Stalinist Russia, the plot revolves around the murder of a young woman working on a film set. The murder quickly turns into a much more complicated affair with the revelation of old crimes and many dark secrets. The author creates an evocative atmosphere of dread ad oppression, in which any remark, thought or past allegiance can lead to imprisonment or death. Although set in a world in which human life seems to hold little value, William Ryan gives us a detective of extraordinary humanity in Alexei Korolev. His female counterpart, Nadezhda Slivka, is a breath of fresh air and irony in the midst of an oppressive regime. The mystery is complex but enthralling and the ending does not disappoint. I would highly recommend this work to anyone who craves a deeply satisfying and atmospheric historical mystery.
J W. (Davis, CA)
This story is fascinating because of the time period and the location. Those two factors turn in into a psychological study as well as a mystery. And those two factors are what kept me reading. The writing, itself, was disjointed in presenting thoughts, conversations and actions. I found myself wondering if it was a translation...but it isn't. The author praises his editor but, I don't think her work is done. This could be a great story instead of only an average one. I won't be hurrying to read his next installment.
Kenneth T. (Houston, TX)
Almost Very Good
William Ryan has chosen as his milieu a most difficult period, the Soviet Union during the 1930s. What we know in hindsight of this period raises the bar considerably for the novelist, the "willing suspension of disbelief." He almost pulls it off with a clever plot, the death of a young woman, a Party member who is a "close" friend of a high ranking commissar. The mood is dark and the chill soon enters the readers bones as the Captain Alexi Korolev tired and worried about his role in the investigation navigates the treachery of the warring sides, the counter-revolutionaries, the Thieves, and his bosses. His character is sympathetic, but he is the only one even minimally fleshed out. The dialogue often sounds like a poor translation to depression-era American idiom. This is a shame because the blurring of good guys and bad, heroes and terrorists, winners and losers could have been terrific, just not quite there.
Harriette K. (Northbrook, IL)
The Darkening Field
A police detective from Moscow is sent to the Odessa area to investigate a suspicious death, and we are plunged into 1937 Communist U.S.S.R. I started reading with low expectations, and then the plot, the time in history and the frightening world the characters lived in grabbed me. The book was totally engrossing, and left me wanting to know more about the protagonist, Alexei Korolev. He is interested in doing the right thing, but also fears for his safety and that of his son in a world where intrigue is the norm. I will now go on to read the author's first book featuring this character. I recommend this book to all lovers of suspense.
Susan F. (Rabun Gap, GA)
As a history buff and recent visitor to the Odessa catacombs, I found The Darkening Field a unique thriller with the backdrop, ever present, of life in Soviet Russia in 1937. It was the time of the Great Terror, a time of a series of campaigns by Joseph Stalin to purge the unloyal and repress and execute many. No one was safe and no one could be trusted.
Such is the atmosphere in which Alexei Korolev, a moral man, must operate as a detective with the Moscow Criminal Investigation Department. This time, he must find the murderer of Maria Lenskaya, a production assistant on a new propaganda film being made in Ukraine. As the story twists and turns, I enjoyed the portrayal of Korolev as he must evaluate each suspect not only on their personal relationship to the victim, but also on their, often hidden, political persuasion as well. An invaluable aid was a listing of the book's characters which helped me sort out the many Russian names.
I highly recommend this second tale of Detective Alexei Korolev. Hopefully, a third is in the making.