What the blurb says: “Mosco, 1937. Captain Korolev, a police investigator, is enjoying a long-overdue visit from his young son Yuri when an eminent scientist is shot dead within sight of the Kremlin. Korolev is ordered to find the killer.
But when another scientist is brutally murdered, and evidence of the professors’ dark experiments is hastily removed, Korolev begins to realise that he’s caught in a dangerous battle between two warring factions of the NKVD. And then Yuri goes missing …”
The Twelfth Department is the third in William Ryan’s Captain Korolev series set in 1930s Russia. His previous novels in the series, The Holy Thief and The Bloody Meadow have between them been shortlisted for a range of fabulous awards including the Theakstones Crime Novel of the Year, the CWA New Blood Dagger, the Irish Fiction Award and the Ireland AM Irish Crime Novel of the Year.
The Twelfth Department is a stunning read. On every page of this novel you feel the undercurrent of tension and horror, a situation made commonplace by Stalin’s Great Terror. Yet despite living in a city caught in the vice-grip of fear, Captain Korolev is a loyal and honourable man, seeking out justice and truth, and determined to do the right thing even if that puts him in danger.
The story feels so authentic, the setting and period detail so vivid, and the story drives forward with a sense of urgency born from the very real jeopardy that the characters find themselves in. I found myself so drawn into the story – the lives of the characters and the world in which they lived – that it was a real struggle to put the book down when I had to go to work (or sleep).
While the novel is part of an ongoing series it works well as a stand alone story in its own right. A must for fans of the police procedural and historical crime fiction, and for anyone looking for a gripping mystery and emotive story that will keep you hooked to the very last page.
[With thanks to MANTLE for my copy of The Twelfth Department]