Friday, April 23, 2010
"To know how to wait. Is the great secret of success." Joseph De Maistre
After Stalin died, in 1956, the violent regime in the Soviet Union was beginning to breakup and the police were thought to be the criminals and the criminals were innocent. Stalin's successor, Khrushchev distributes a secret speech saying that Stalin was a tyrant and that Russia would change.
Before the change took place, Leo Demidov took on the name, Maxim, and pretended to be, a follower of a man named Lazar and was the lover of Lazar's wife, Anisya. When the time was appropriate, Leo betrayed Lazar and Anisya, forcing them to betray many others and then sending them both to prison.
As the changes took place after Stalin's death, criminals gained more control. Anisya is released from prison and takes on the name Fraera. She begins planning to take revenge against Leo. She becomes the head of a gang and kidnaps Leo's adopted daughter, Zoya. Fraera then informs Leo that he must free her husband from prison or she will kill Zoya.
Leo had been in charge of a homicide branch of the police. His trusted associate and friend is Timur. Leo knows that they can't release Lazar through normal methods so Leo pretends to be a prisoner and sent to the same Gulag as Lazar. Then, he can arrange an escape for them both. Timur's job was to act as a security officer in the Gulag.
With an excellent sense of history and drama, the story unfolds, providing the reader with an enlightened view of the intrigue and deception rampant in Russia in the 1950's.
This is one of the best historical mysteries that I've read in a long time. Leo Demidov is a well portrayed character who wins the reader's heart with his love for family and sense of justice.