A book blog about Russia in English-language fiction

Tag: Chechnya

Death of a Dissident by Stuart Kaminsky (1981)

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 …

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Tatiana by Martin Cruz Smith (2013)

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.

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The Senility of Vladimir P. by Michael Honig (2016) – part two

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.

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