Praise for Declan Burke: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Review: THE TWELFTH DEPARTMENT by William Ryan

I had a crime fiction review column published in the Irish Times last weekend, which included the latest offerings from Jeffrey Deaver, Fred Vargas, Sara Gran and Denise Mina. It also included THE TWELFTH DEPARTMENT by William Ryan, with the gist running thusly:
Set in Moscow in the 1930s, The Twelfth Department (Mantle, €15.99) is the third outing in William Ryan’s increasingly impressive Captain Korolev series. Police investigator Korolev is co-opted by the NKVD when an eminent scientist with strong political connections to the Party (and possibly Stalin himself) is shot dead, but his task – complicated by the disappearance of his young son, Yuri – becomes something of a wander through a metaphorical hall of mirrors where notions such as truth and justice mean whatever the Party wants them to mean. There’s an Orwellian influence to the manipulation of language and meaning in The Twelfth Department, while Korolev’s quest to uncover the ‘facts’ of his investigation amounts to his resembling a pawn being kicked around the board by warring superiors. The geographical setting and political backdrop are compelling enough, but Korolev is a fascinating character in his own right, an army veteran of ‘the German War’ who acknowledges the poisonous nature of the regime he serves even as he clings to the hope that its propaganda might someday chime with reality. – Declan Burke
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