First of all, the St Petersburg setting (Piter) absolutely grabbed me as did the insight into Russian policing and crime. Fascinating.
The book starts with a mysterious escape in 1999 and a car crash which coincides with the resignation of Yeltsin and close to the beginning of the Putin era. It then fast forwards to June 2017 and we see a nation that runs on bribes, questioning who it’s possible to trust in the police and then there’s the shadowy FSB. Senior Detective Natalia Ivanova works for the Criminal Investigations Directorate as does husband Mikhail (Misha) who is a Major. She is asked by boss Colonel Vasiliev to investigate the disappearance of Zena Dahl, the daughter of a Swedish billionaire. What unfolds is an intriguing story full of twists that surprises you and plenty of danger from a variety of sources.
I like a lot about this book especially the character of Natalia which shines through. She is caught between so many rivalries and interferences, threats and lies from several sources both inside and outside the police force. We have the Russian Mafia and gangsters in the equation too which adds an extra level of menace. Natalia despite all this bravely pursues the truth at great personal risk and to her family too. The novel is very well written and plotted and the finale is very dramatic and exciting.
Although I’ve never been to Russia and I have a fascination with its history and St Petersburg is on my wish list of places to visit. I feel the author transports you there in this atmospheric and impressive thriller. He gives us a real glimpse of what life may be like under Putin – best to watch your back.
Overall, an excellent read that I recommend to fans of thrillers who want to read something a little bit different.