This book was recommended to me by someone who knows I like true crime books, he told me that while fiction, it was based on the Rostov Ripper. It was described as a propulsive, relentless page-turner. While I did find this book to be interesting, I don’t agree with either description.
While there is a serial killer in the book, that is not its main focus. The author deals more with the history of Russia, starting with a devastating famine, then goes on to detail what it was like living in Stalinist Russia, a place where paranoia was rampant, because no one could be trusted. While trying to set up a paradise for its workers, the State has become the biggest threat to them, with its spies and ideals.
In the midst of this ‘paradise’ a serial killer is operating, except, that is impossible according to the state. Leo Demidov, a war hero with a beautiful wife, is a member of the MGB, the State Security Force and is a courageous, conscientious and idealistic officer. Until an accusation sends his life spiraling out of control, he finds himself interrogated, then exiled and hunting this killer on his own. A life and death situation for Leo, his wife and parents.
Unfortunately the book doesn’t live up to the hype. While it is very interesting and gives a riveting and accurate portrayal of Russia, it is not a page turning thriller. The book seems to get bogged down in details, as if the author while describing an event or place can’t decide how to finish it and go on. And the serial killer angle, while a central part of the book, is actually made secondary and by the mid point of the book, who the killer is can be figured out rather easily.
I would recommend this book to people looking for a character driven story about Russia with a mystery thrown in, I would not recommend it to thriller lovers.
On a positive note, I know have 3 books added to my wish list and another serial killer to read about. Andrei Chikatilo ~ Rostov Ripper