Crime not espionage, that was the trend for thrillers about Russia in the 1990s, as the Russian state all but collapsed and Russian criminal gangs made their presence felt across the globe.
David Lindsey’s Requiem for a Glass Heart is very much a thriller —a terrific read, combining a page-turning plot with a layered development of character and situation.
Fancy a little pre-Christmas quiz? This is one for lovers of Russia-in-fiction detective stories. There is only one question, and it is an absolute doddle.
If the first murder victim in a Russia-in-fiction detective thriller is killed with a sickle, how will the second murder victim meet their grisly end?
Of course, to give you the answer might be seen as a spoiler by some —but I am not really one for this fastidious fad for being horrified at minor plot points being revealed. So here goes, the answer is …
Tatiana is the 8th of Martin Cruz Smith’s Arkady Renko novels, all of which were re-packaged in 2013, with new monochrome photo covers and availability as ebooks.
The Renko novels go all the way back to their remarkable opener, Gorky Park published in 1981, during the dying days of the stagnant but, from this distance, strangely beguiling Brezhnev years. The most recent, The Siberian Dilemma, was published in 2019.
In several interviews over the years —for example in the New York Times in 1990— Martin Cruz Smith has talked about how he originally intended to write a novel about an American detective who goes to Soviet Moscow. Then the ‘obvious idea’ came to him; to make his hero a Russian detective. Arkady Renko was created.
Part one of this review is here.
As The Senility of Vladimir P. progresses, both the story element and the Russia-in-fiction element get progressively more serious. Nikolai Sheremetev, full-time nurse to a dementia-afflicted ex-president Putin, is forced by events to question his good and simple approach to caring for his patient.
And these events are not simply stuff that happens, but come to be seen —as the scales of good-hearted naivety fall from Sheremetev’s eyes— to be endemic in the Russia that Putin created.
Christopher Reich’s third book very much merits the description of Russia-focused thriller. And a turn-of-the-century one at that, with the plot revolving around oligarchs, violence, and financial misdeeds.