CAPTAIN Alexei Korolov is well known as a detective who does his job with the utmost discretion, for he is often called to investigate those in the political elite of 1930s Soviet Russia.

After his last case in The Holy Thief, Korolov fears for his life or spending the rest of his days in the labour camps of Siberia, so when a knock on the door comes in the middle of the night, he fears the worst. Instead, he is asked to investigate the suspected suicide of a young woman who was working on a film-set in Ukraine.

Korolov discovers that the girl has been a lover of Ezhov, the chief of National Security who wants the utmost discretion in the case, but Korolov discovers that the girl was murdered and uncovers plans regarding the safety of the State.

He finds all those around him are under suspicion of both murder and terrorism.

William Ryan is a refreshing voice in the world of detective fiction, introducing characters we become fond of in a difficult period of world history. I admire his enthusiasm for the research he has to do and the way he eases it into a fast-paced story.