Captain Alexei Korolev, unwavering in his outward party loyalty but internally conflicted, a dedicated policeman caught in terrifying circumstances, is one of the most intriguing figures in crime fiction since his literary ancestor Martin Cruz Smith's Arkady Renko.
Now it is 1937, Russia, and Korolev finds himself on an airplane bound for Odessa after the suspicious suicide there of Maria Alexandrovna Lenskaya, a loyal young party member who had an intimate relationship with the party director, with instructions to find her killer and keep her ties to the director under wraps.
In Odessa, the girl was working on the set of a movie subsidized by the state, and between all those involved in the production, her journalist boyfriend, and nosy locals, there is a large pool of suspects. Korolev finds help from several quarters, including his writer friend Isaac Babel and an ambitious young local policewoman, but also Kolya, the head of Moscows thieves, whose appearance in Odessa comes as quite a shock. But it is not as surprising as the treasonous plot Korolev uncovers in this second gripping, devastatingly true-to-life thriller from William Ryan.
First published in the UK as A Bloody Meadow
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"Starred Review. The plot is intricate, the action satisfying, and Ryan's use of period detail, including the brutal 'collectivization' of the Ukraine and that region's nationalist and anarchist movements, makes for exhilarating reading." - Booklist
"Though he's not quite as fully realized as Stuart Kaminskys Porfiry Rostnikov, the appealing Karolev in his second appearance invites comparison to him. Thats high praise indeed." - Kirkus
"While an ever-widening cast and a few too many twists tend to undermine the story's clear logic and atmospheric feel, readers will want to see more of Korolev, a weary but determined cop who puts justice ahead of Stalinist politics - at his peril." - Publishers Weekly
"Ryan's main characters are strong and believable, the dialog is crisply idiomatic, and Odessa's cityscape is grimly foreboding. Ryan's Korolev is on a brilliant trajectory to join the ranks of respected European detectives." - Library Journal
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William Ryan is an Irish writer, living in London. His first novel, The Holy Thief, was shortlisted for The UK Crime Writer's Association "New Blood" Dagger Award, The Irish Fiction Award, a Barry Award, and The Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. For more information, visit www.william-ryan.com.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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