Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Review of The Twelfth Department by William Ryan (Mantle, 2013)
The Twelfth Department is the third instalment in Korolev series and sees the detective back in his native Moscow after his excursion to the Ukraine in his last outing. Ryan does an admirable job of recreating the tension and paranoia of pre-war Russia, and the ways in which ordinary people try to survive and get by in the system. Korolev is canny, street-wise and willing to take a risk, but he isn’t corrupt nor anti-establishment, instead trying to be a good citizen and comrade in a regime that oppresses many. Given his job, he is tested often, and in The Twelfth Department Ryan provides a nice conumdrum to solve both in terms of the case and in surviving being a pawn in a game between NKVD departments. Indeed, this is a well-paced, plot-driven story, and whilst the characters are nicely penned, they are caught in the moment of the story and the reader learns little of their back story or wider situation and it would be interesting to learn a little more about Korolev and his colleagues in the next book. In compensation, there is a strong sense of place, good contextualisation, and vivid atmosphere. Overall, an enjoyable read and solid addition to what is shaping up to be a very good series.
I was fortunate enough to be send an advance copy by the publisher and The Twelfth Department is not published until May, so you have plenty of time to get your advanced order in.