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The Bloody Meadow [Hardcover]

William Ryan
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
Price: 16.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

2 Sep 2011

Following his investigations in The Holy Thief, which implicated those at the very top of authority in Soviet Russia, Captain Alexei Korolev finds himself decorated and hailed as an example to all Soviet workers. But Korolev lives in an uneasy peace – his new-found knowledge is dangerous, and if it is discovered what his real actions were during the case, he will face deportation to the frozen camps of the far north.

But when the knock on the door comes, in the dead of night, it is not Siberia Korolev is destined for. Instead, Colonel Rodinov of the NKVD security service asks the detective to look into the suspected suicide of a young woman: Maria Alexandovna Lenskaya, a model citizen. Korolev is unnerved to learn that Lenskaya had been of interest to Ezhov, the feared Commissar for State Security. Ezhov himself wants to matter looked into.

And when the detective arrives on the set for Bloody Meadow, in the bleak, battle-scarred Ukraine, he soon discovers that there is more to Lenskaya's death than meets the eye . . .

Korolev nodded, thinking of the dead girl, and wondering whether, these days, it was such a good thing to be Commissar Ezhov’s friend . . .

Russia, 1937. In Moscow, Stalin’s purges are reaching their darkest hour.

Meanwhile Korolev, a police investigator, must travel to the bleak, battle-scarred Ukraine – scene of some of Stalin’s bloodiest crimes – to look into the mysterious death of a young woman. The victim, a beautiful film production assistant, had made both powerful friends and terrible enemies . . .

The Holy Thief, set in Stalin’s Russia, was one of last year’s most impressive crime fiction debuts. The Bloody Meadow, William Ryan’s follow-up, does not disappoint . . . Ryan has obviously done much research into that sinister period of Russian history and manages to convey its claustrophobic atmosphere brilliantly’ Marcel Berlins, The Times

‘Every bit as darkly compelling as its predecessor’ Daily Express

‘An outstanding thriller’ Independent Ireland

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Mantle; First ediiton edition (2 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230742742
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230742741
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 374,653 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Ryan is an Irish writer, living in London. William's first novel, The Holy Thief, was shortlisted for a Crime Writer's Association New Blood Dagger, a Barry Award, The Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award and The Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. His second novel, The Bloody Meadow was shortlisted for the Ireland AM Crime Novel of the Year and his third, The Twelfth Department, was also shortlisted for the Ireland AM Crime Novel of the Year as well as the CWA's Historical Fiction Dagger. He is currently working on a standalone novel set during the last months of World War 2. Visit for more information.

Product Description


The Holy Thief, set in Stalin’s Russia, was one of last year’s most impressive crime fiction debuts. The Bloody Meadow, William Ryan’s follow-up, does not disappoint . . . Ryan has obviously done much research into that sinister period of Russian history and manages to convey its claustrophobic atmosphere brilliantly’ Marcel Berlins, The Times

‘Thrilling. 4 stars’ Daily Express

‘A novel that confirms Ryan’s talent’ Sunday Times

‘Every bit as darkly compelling as its predecessor with all the elements that made The Holy Thief so successful: razor-sharp plotting, an evocative sense of location in a vividly realised Ukraine and most winning of all the vulnerably human Alexei Korolev making a nuisance of himself’ Daily Express

‘Last year, with William Ryan’s The Holy Thief, detective-fiction aficionados welcomed the thrillingly horrific first instalment in a new series set in 1930s Moscow . . . in this second instalment Ryan has produced a film-noir-ish rewrite of the old-fashioned locked-room mystery, complete with creepily gripping, and ultimately gruesome, cops and robbers chase through the great catacombs on which Odessa sits, while Stalin’s man-made terror-famine, which scorched through the Ukraine half a decade before the book opens, is only gestured at, in elliptical speech and ultimately in the characters’ motivations. Yet what remains constant is Ryan’s ability to display a foreign mindset while appearing to be entirely at home in the vernacular. His ear for dialogue is acute . . . But Ryan’s primary purpose remains the serious depiction of the hellish hall of mirrors that was Stalinist Russia . . . Ryan’s unrolling of the mental gymnastics required to survive this upside-down world where the morning’s hero is the evening’s victim is both thrillerishly pacey while also allowing his characters to grow in moral stature’ Spectator

‘Ryan is very knowledgeable about a dreadful place during a terrible period of history, and creates an atmosphere of claustrophobia and terror . . . This is very neatly plotted and well written, and amounts to a convincing recreation of paranoia in Stalinist Russia' Jessica Mann, Literary Review

‘William Ryan convincingly pitched us into the Kafkaesque labyrinth of 1930s Stalinist Russia with last year’s The Holy Thief – his troubled Moscow militia detective risking the gulag as he uncovered crimes at high levels. In The Bloody Meadow Korolev is dispatched to film set in the Ukraine to dig into the supposed suicide of a young, pretty ‘model citizen’ with powerful connections . . . Korolev’s struggle to stay sane in a world gone mad is intriguing’ Metro

About the Author

William Ryan was called to the English bar after university in Dublin, then worked as a lawyer in the City. His novels THE HOLY THIEF, THE BLOODY MEADOW and THE TWELFTH DEPARTMENT set in 1930s Stalinist Russia, have been shortlisted for the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year Award, the CWA New Blood Dagger, the Irish Fiction Award and twice for the Ireland AM Irish Crime Novel of the Year Award. William is married and lives in West London.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
This is the second book featuring the protagonist and I bought it the moment I had finished the first book "The Holy Thief", having become intrigued by the central character Korolev. The author brilliantly conveys the confusing and threatening atmosphere of the pre-war Soviet Union and the various strategies individuals use in order to survive. The protagonist, a militia man trying to solve a murder and keep out of the way of the Chekists (early KGB), is no two dimensional hero but a man doing his best to survive and maintain his integrity. An excellent thriller set in a intriguing time and well written. I can only hope that there will be more to come.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent follow-up 17 Mar 2012
Once again we are immersed in the claustrophobic and paranoid atmosphere of Stalinist Russia, in this the follow up to Ryan's remarkable debut `The Holy Thief'. Our erstwhile hero and investigator Captain Korolev becomes embroiled in the suspected suicide of a beautiful young woman working as a film production assistant, and is uprooted from the relative safety of Moscow to the wilds to investigate. A seemingly straightforward case one would think, but as Korolev gets drawn in deeper to her complicated private life and her links to an especially violent period of Russian history, dark secrets are unearthed and Korolev must revisit an unpredictable and dangerous ally from the past to thwart a perilous plot at personal risk to his life and career.
Ryan's attention to historical detail is masterful and because the novel is so rooted in the reality of this period, one truly gets the sense of the fear of speaking one's own mind and the inherent suspicion of others that was fuelled by the suffocating and paranoid dictatorship of Stalin. This attention to historical detail and sense of place is counterbalanced by the precision of the plotting and a cast of truly well-drawn characters and the storyline is also underscored by moments of mordant humour that catch the reader unawares. I really liked the introduction of Slivka, a young female investigator who becomes invaluable to Korolev's investigation and the reappearance of Kolya- the leader of The Thieves- was a welcome surprise as despite his criminal tendencies, he makes a wonderful foil to Korolev's role as law enforcer. I would heartily recommend this book as a terrific criminal read but also as an astute and well-observed depiction of a terrifying period of Russian history. More than just a crime novel...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read 3 Jan 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a great book. Full of suspense and intrigue. It is not only a great story but also gives you a real insight into life in soviet Russia under Stalin. This is a step on from his first book the holy thief which is also a great read. I highly recommend it. Ken
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I like Alexei Korolev 26 July 2012
By bookworm VINE VOICE
This is the second book featuring our detective from Moscow, Captain Alexei Korolev - who is a decent man living in a society immersed in paranoia and brutality, keeping his head down and doing his job to the best of his ability. He claims he is not a political man but believes in criminal justice and he quietly prays to himself too which could see him sent him off to a Gulag if he was caught. I loved the first book, The Holy Thief, and found this book to be a great sequel. This one takes him down to Odessa in the Ukraine in the pre-war years of the Great Terror in which the Ukraine suffered appalling hardships in order to bring it into line with the Soviet structure. Feelings still ran high against their tormenters and there was a hotbed of counter-revolutionary activity that would topple the hardline regime if possible. Korolev does his best to the bring the criminals to justice and order to the proceedings. A very good read and I look forward to reading of Korolev's next assignment.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than "The Holy Thief." 3 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The second of William Ryan's Stalinist Russia crime novels more than lives up to the promise of the first. It is in the same vein and features not only the likable Alexei Kolorov but also NKVD characters and underworld figures from the earlier book. New is the introduction of a sturdily original female assistant, who looks set to return in the next story. While not wishing to do less than justice to "The Holy Thief", this novel seems to me to offer a better plot, both in terms of incidents and pacing. Ryan also shows the ability to handle prolonged tense action scenes, and although there is no shortage of violence there is not the emphasis on sadism that seemed somewhat gratuitous before. Kolorov looks well set to join Wallender, Hole and company as one of the leading detectives in contemporary crime fiction.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cold, blooded,murder 3 Jun 2012
By Noel
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the second of William Ryan's novels set in Stalin's Russia. Moscow police officer Alexei Korolev is the central character. It begins with the death of a beautiful young actress who has had a liaison with a high-ranking Soviet and Korolev gets the call in the middle of the night. That leads to new-fangled plane journey into the country to begin the investigation. It is a very well told story, played out in the Russian snow, in a former home of the gentry now a centre of collectivisation. The atmosphere is constantly pervaded by the dark presence of the soviet regime. The political intrigue adds an extra dimension to the story. It is an intense and excellent read and I have now bought 'The Holy Thief' first in this series.

A final thought, I hope 'The Bloody Meadow' is never turned into a film because Mr Ryan created such atmosphere and pictures in my mind that a film could only fall short(like 'The Last of the Mohicans').
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A great story set in a troubled land.
Up to the usual high standards for this series of books, and possibly benefitting from taking the hero out of Moscow and relocating him temporarily in the Southern Ukraine, a place... Read more
Published 2 months ago by jeremy bennett
5.0 out of 5 stars A New genre - Moscow Noir!
The first book in the series 'The Holy Thief' set the scene as a 1930's Moscow cop tries to unravel a group of murders knowing that a 'political' failure could result in his... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mr. P. Milner
4.0 out of 5 stars Coming on nicely
Previously I commented on "The Holy Thief" very briefly, as in not Cruz-Smith.
This continues the character development as well as telling a good yarn. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Sgt John
3.0 out of 5 stars to Moscow!
not nearly as good as #1 (Holy Thief), mostly because it does not take place in the mean streets of Moscow, but instead out in the rural tundra with the ho-hum setting of a british... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Zangiku
3.0 out of 5 stars 2nd book in a trilogy
Didn't find it as interesting as the other books, found it rather disappointing, not as exciting as the first book I read
Published 5 months ago by Susan Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars A Welcome Introduction
Best "new to me" author that I have read for years. I have read all three in the Korolev series and look forward to more.
Published 7 months ago by LynB
5.0 out of 5 stars a great read
I bought the Holy Thief at a charity shop thinking it was a Indiana Jones type of it was a great read with twists and turns... Read more
Published 8 months ago by R. M. Riley
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bloody Meadow
I love these books that I found lately by accident through your promotions. Beautifully written and giving a convincing and fascinating picture of Russia while weaving a good tale
Published 10 months ago by Rdeakin
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Very evocative of a fascinating era in modern history and a fine thriller as well. Look forward to other books about the revolution.
Published 10 months ago by Fjb
5.0 out of 5 stars i love it
i have to admit i bought this book for my brother but as he say its truly amazing book,thank you
Published 10 months ago by kate
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