Ryan, William - The Twelfth Department
This book is amazing! Even better than THE BLOODY MEADOW, the previous book by this author, it keeps you hanging on by drip feeding you morsels of information and cranking up the tension to fever pitch as it does so. THE TWELFTH DEPARTMENT is the third book by William Ryan, and also the third in his series featuring Captain Alexei Korolev; a Moscow-based police detective who lives and works in Stalin's Russia and seems to excel at walking a very fine line between being a good citizen and being arrested in the night for his dodgy past and current connections. Ryan paints a vivid picture of less-than-pretty life in Russia in the 1930s. It was a time when people were constantly looking over their shoulders in fear and could be reported for the slightest little thing.
As with Ryan's previous book, Korolev is wanted to solve a murder that is politically sensitive. He is assigned a temporary position with State Security and has to find the person, or persons, responsible for the deaths of two Russian scientists that were involved in some rather unpleasant brainwashing experiments. Korolev's progress is significantly impeded by the Chekists, who want the murder solved but are neither interested in the truth, and pressure Korolev to pin responsibility on somebody that he is not sure actually did it, nor willing to share all the necessary information with him.
When he is given a time limit for getting to the bottom of the mystery, and despite feeling that he must agree that an innocent man is actually the murderer, Korolev once again shows his moral strength of character. He is certain that his life is on the line, yet he continues in his search for the truth. What he discovers will make your blood run as cold as his does and both of you wonder how he can have this much information and remain alive, when men have 'disappeared' for knowing far less.
A truly magnificent book: addictive, interesting, well-written and full of interesting characters. Captain Korolev is helping Ryan establish himself as a first rate author of historical crime fiction.
I am definitely a fan of this series and already desperate to read the next one!
Extremely highly recommended.
Amanda C M Gillies, Scotland