Book - 2017 | First edition
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"Red Square, 1985. The naked body of a young man is left outside the walls of the Kremlin, frozen solid--like marble to the touch--missing the little finger from his right hand. A week later, Alex Marston, the headstrong fifteen-year-old daughter of the British Ambassador, disappears. Army Intelligence Officer Tom Fox, posted to Moscow to keep him from telling the truth to a government committee, is asked to help find her. It's a shot at redemption. But Russia is reluctant to give up the worst of her secrets. As Fox's investigation sees him dragged deeper towards the dark heart of a Soviet establishment determined to protect its own, his fears for Alex's safety grow with those of the girl's father. And if Fox can't find her soon, she looks likely to become the next victim of a sadistic killer whose story is bound tight to that of his country's terrible past... Moskva is a brilliantly written, chilling and sophisticated the first serial killer thriller by two-time BSFA winner Jon Courtenay Grimwood"-- Provided by publisher
Publisher: New York : Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, 2017
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781250124777
Branch Call Number: MYS Grimwood, J 100.1 2017
Characteristics: 359 pages ; 25 cm


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Jul 14, 2017

It was Churchill who said Russia was “A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” This is a good of description as any for Moskva. It is a complicated story about a complicated time. The few years before the Cold War ended, and no one knew it was coming. Was it the words of Reagan, the continuous efforts of Western Intelligence or the Russians so badly losing the war in Afghanistan that signaled the end of the USSR ?
Moskva is also set in a different time, after the siege of Stalingrad and the terror filled entry of Russia into Germany. This was a time when the political officers allowed three days of rape and pillage, unless of course the men demanded more, which they did demand, always. A group of Russian soldiers are sent into Berlin on special assignment. An English officer soon finds out about their special assignment, but too late to stop them. Those actions from 1945 echo into the eighties, with the children of some of those players now paying for the horrific sins of their fathers.
Major Tom Fox is sent to the British Embassy in Moscow to keep him away from an inquiry launched by some Westminster boffins. He is a near alcoholic, with his marriage barely on life support and his trying to come to terms with the death of his young daughter. When Alex, the step-daughter of the British Ambassador disappears, Major Tom (sorry couldn’t resist) seeks redemption in his quest to find Alex, hopefully still alive. Her disappearance is soon linked to the exsanguination death of a young boy. Soon other bodies of exsanguinated children are showing up. Calling this a serial killer book misses the mark. It is tour of the houses of horrors that were Stalingrad and Berlin at the end of the war and Russia near the end of the Cold War. It is also a tribute the resilient people of Russia who din't want to accept the status quo and worked to upset it.
Tom Fox’s inquiries are both helped and hindered by the also near alcoholic one-legged veteran from Afghanistan, Dennisov, who owns a bar that Fox conveniently stumbles upon. He finds other allies, a Marshal of the Soviet Union, his granddaughter, and a larger than life Mafia boss. Watching over all of this might be the greatest Russian Hero of all, a homeless woman known as the Wax Angel.
In his official Embassy duties and through his investigations Fox makes some powerful friends and powerful enemies. The Heroes of the Great Patriotic War may be the elder lions of Russia, but they are anything but toothless and are still capable of incredible acts of horror or of honor.
Read closely and pay attention to the names. This is not the book to skim a bit now and then. It’s not the easiest to follow, and some of the decade switching took me a minute to catch on to. But the slight extra effort will be worth it. I’m also not sure I understand clearly the full story of the Wax Angel, but that could all be on me.
The last quarter of Moskva gives new life to the overused term thriller, or a new definition. In eighty degree weather I wanted to put on furs and boots. Mostly boots, I don’t ever want to be without boots. The intricate and riveting first three quarters should serve as a reminder to the horrors of today’s Russia because the past really does matter. Fox fights his own demons as he seeks desperately to save Alex, going against the monsters who were created in order to survive the Great Patriotic War and Stalin.
The West eventually won the Cold War, but Russia has won the peace and Grimwood adroitly shows the price both the Russian people and the West paid.
Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.


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