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Holy Thief: 1 Paperback – 22 November 2011
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- Paperback : 345 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0312552696
- ISBN-13 : 978-0312552695
- Dimensions : 13.97 x 2.01 x 21.59 cm
- Publisher : St. Martins Press-3PL; Reprint edition (22 November 2011)
- Language: : English
- Customer Reviews:
"Without a doubt, The Holy Thief is one of the best historical mysteries I've read in the last ten years." --David Liss
"One of the year's most exciting [debuts] . . . While the search for Russian icons will bring to mind Martin Cruz Smith's brilliant Gorky Park, Ryan puts a fresh, original spin on the briskly paced The Holy Thief." --Oline H. Cogdill, Sun-Sentinel
"Impressive.... Ryan, who merits comparison to Tom Rob Smith, makes palpable the perpetual state of fear of being reported as disloyal, besides dramatizing the difficulty of being an honest cop in a repressive police state. Readers will hope Korolev has a long career ahead of him." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Watch out, Martin Cruz Smith, there's a new kid on the block and he's really good. William Ryan's debut opus, The Holy Thief, set it Moscow in 1936, stars Captain Alexei Dmitriyevich Korolev, a detective in the Moscow Militia who might eventually give Arkady Renko a run for his rubles...Flawlessly narrated, as expected, by Simon Vance." --BookPage
"A powerful first novel by British author William Ryan that I certainly hope will not be his last." --Winston-Salem Journal on the audio edition of The Holy Thief
"The drama, excitement, intrigue, and fear are portrayed with authenticity and emotion." --SoundCommentary.com"
"In his solitude and resolve, Ryan's Korolev evokes Martin Cruz Smith's fierce Arkady Renko, while the period detail and gore call to mind Tom Rob Smith. Remarkable thriller..." --Library Journal (starred review)
"A subtle, superb mystery, a wonderful central character and with a sense of place and period to rival even the greatest of the Russian masters. More please!" --Kate Mosse, author of Sepulchre
"With The Holy Thief, Ryan establishes himself as a fresh voice, rendering the snow-slicked streets of Thirties' Moscow with brilliant clarity. His picture of Captain Korolev as a conflicted, yet loyal, state servant is acutely real, as is his world, slouching toward terror and war. A masterful evocation of a dark time, wrapped around an even darker mystery, The Holy Thief does its magic on the head as well as the nerves." --Olen Steinhauer, author of The Nearest Exit
"A powerhouse debut, intricately plotted, tautly written, richly imagined. With effortless, page-turning ease Ryan leads us into the mirror-world of 1930s Stalinist Russia where nothing is quite what it seems and no one is quite who they claim to be. For Captain Alexei Korolev of the Moscow Militia, the price of failure is a bullet through the head--and so is the price of success. Thrilling." --Paul Sussman, author of The Hidden Oasis
"A first-rate crime novel: a genuinely memorable detective, powerful story and a seamlessly convincing setting. William Ryan is the real thing." --A. L. Kennedy, author of Day
"The Holy Thief is an utterly compelling and beautifully lucid novel, in which murder, history and suspicion combine to create an atmosphere of ever-increasing and constantly shifting suspense." --John Burnside, author of The Glister"
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Gunther and Reinhardt fans will recognise Korolov; a man with a damaged past but with a humane conscience who wants to be thorough and yet get to the truth of an issue. The Holy Thief might get slightly long winded in places, but the story does carry you along and you do discover many fascinating aspects of 1930's life under Stalin, the all-pervasive climate of fear and how this distorts truth, and the relationships between many of the organs of state. I had no hesitation in moving on to the second novel, and recommend this book.
The Holy Thief takes place in 1930s Soviet Moscow and follows a rather complex investigation by a police officer into a grisly murder. The investigation leads the somewhat world-weary and rather un-Sovietly inquisitive Korolev into a world of truly dangerous and complicated plots. The murders are associated with the sale of valuables by the Russian state to fund the Five Year Plan and the disappearance of one particular valuable. A simple (though not really so much) murder investigation is made more difficult by the interference of the NKVD (the forerunner of the KGB) who have their own connected investigation going, foreign nationals, the now-banned Orthodox Church, the semi-official organised crime echelons and so much more.
You know those American movies where it turns out not to be a simple FBI investigation, because the CIA and the NSA are involved and some senator or other is out for himself and using them all, and everything descends in a spiral of espionage and deceit? Well that sort of thing plays equally well in 30s Russia, apparently. The plot is well weaved, but it made all the better by the labyrinthine webs of official government departments.
The feel of the book, for me, is something like a cross between the movies Gorky Park and Enemy Of The State with a healthy dose of film noir. The main character is extremely believable and despite the clever connections he makes and the string of punishments he suffers, there is nothing unrealistic there. He is simply lucky, bright and bloody minded.
But for me there is one aspect that makes the book a win. Despite great characters and a good plot, the best thing about the Korolev mysteries so far is the atmosphere. The author’s knowledge and research have been poured into the book until it surpasses the ‘full’ mark and have left us with something that feels REALLY authentic. It made me endlessly grateful that I don’t live in 30s Moscow, for a start. You can almost feel the grimy, rainy street beneath you as you read. Few authors have achieved quite such a level of authenticity in a setting.
Basically the book wins on so many levels. I recommend buying it and reading it. It’ll keep you riveted right to the very end.
'The Holy Thief' by William Ryan is a well-crafted book. The sense of time and place is superbly evoked; the reader can feel the cold, see the shabbiness and feel the fear. Ryan brilliantly captures the paranoia pervading all of Soviet society at this dark period in its history. Ryan also presents the protagonist well: Korolev comes across as a likeable character with depth whom the reader wants to learn more about.
There are elements of crime fiction, spy thriller and historical fiction in this enjoyable read. I felt, though, the pace was quite plodding for a thriller and the plot sometimes hard to follow. To sum up, it is a competent though not outstanding novel.