Shop now Learn more Shop now Shop All Amazon Fashion Shop Suki Ad Campaign Pieces Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Amazon Fire TV Shop now Halloween Pets Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Voyage Listen in Prime Learn more Shop now
Start reading The Holy Thief: Korolev Mysteries Book 1 on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here or start reading now with a free Kindle Reading App.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Add Audible Narration
The Holy Thief Narrated by Sean Barrett £19.99 £7.99

Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

The Holy Thief: Korolev Mysteries Book 1 (The Korolev Series) [Kindle Edition]

William Ryan
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
Kindle Price: £4.31 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
You Save: £3.68 (46%)
* Unlike print books, digital books are subject to VAT.

Free Kindle Reading App Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.

Audible Narration

Switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book and listening to the Audible narration. Add narration for a reduced price of £7.99 after you buy the Kindle book.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition £4.31  
Hardcover £12.99  
Paperback £7.99  
Audio Download, Unabridged £0.00 Free with Audible trial
Audio, CD, Audiobook --  
Kindle Daily Deal
Kindle Daily Deal: Up to 70% off
Each day we unveil a new book deal at a specially discounted price--for that day only. Learn more about the Kindle Daily Deal or sign up for the Kindle Daily Deal Newsletter to receive free e-mail notifications about each day's deal.

Book Description

Moscow, 1936 and Stalin's Great Terror is beginning. In a deconsecrated Church, a young woman is found dead, her mutilated body displayed on the altar for all to see.

Captain Alexei Dimitrevich Korolev of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Moscow Militia, is asked to investigate. But when he discovers that the victim is an American citizen, the NKVD - the most feared organisation in Russia - becomes involved.

As more bodies are discovered and the pressure from above builds, Korolev begins to question who he can trust; and who, in this Russia where fear, uncertainty and hunger prevails, are the real criminals. Soon, Korolev will find not only his moral and political ideals threatened, but also his life . . .

Books In This Series (3 Books)
Complete Series

  • Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought

    Page of Start over
    This shopping feature will continue to load items. In order to navigate out of this carousel please use your heading shortcut key to navigate to the next or previous heading.

    Product Description


    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)

    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)

    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 'Ryan's novel has an authority that belies his first-novel status... Ryan demonstrates considerable skill in evoking this benighted period, along with a deftness at ringing the changes on familiar crime plotting moves. The auguries for a series, of which The Holy Thief is the first book, are very promising indeed. (Daily Express)

    Impressive debut... The Great Terror's atmosphere of fear and paranoia is well portrayed, and Korolev is an appealing hero (Marcel Berlins The Times)

    It is rare to meet a genuinely exciting new voice in crime fiction. Ex-City lawyer William Ryan should definitely give up the day job, because he is a writer through and through, and in this first novel he establishes what promises to be a rewarding series. Ryan's research is impressive . . . More importantly, the way his people think and speak under duress has the feel of eye-witness reportage. The city life - the feral street-children who have a ragged copy of Sherlock Holmes, the thugs who run the underworld that flourishes under the biggest thug of all, Stalin - is terrifyingly believable, while scenes like that of a pathologist and police-photographer chummily swigging post-mortem vodka out of sample jars give a tragicomic sense of humanity preserved. Ryan writes with narrative drive and urgency, real sense of place, and a central character who is conflicted, moral, and above all likeable. Any one of these things is a rarity; the combination is whodunnit heaven (Times Literary Supplement)

    This debut is a powerful tale set in 1930s Russia ... it's atmospheric, beautifully written and meticulously researched (Irish Examiner)

    A first novel written with all the narrative assurance of someone who'd been perfecting his art for years. A thriller set amid the paranoia of 1930s Moscow, it was persuasive in all its local and historical details, told its tense story with style and aplomb and had an engagingly troubled hero (Irish Independent)

    William Ryan uses an inspired choice of setting for The Holy Thief, the first of a planned series set in a vividly imagined Stalinist Russia, where the creeping paranoia of a surveillance state blends perfectly with the brutal serial murders his protagonist Captain Korolev is charged with investigating. (Metro - Crime Books of the Year)

    Ryan's first detective novel confidently re-creates a paranoid society where mutual suspicion is the norm . . . The Holy Thief is an absorbing and assured debut (Sunday Times)


    Praise for "The Holy Thief"

    "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"
    "Ryan, who merits comparison to Tom Rob Smith, makes palpable the perpetual state of fear. . . . Readers will hope Korolev has a long career ahead of him."
    --"Publishers Weekly" (starred review)

    Product details

    • Format: Kindle Edition
    • File Size: 934 KB
    • Print Length: 369 pages
    • Publisher: Pan; Main Market Ed. edition (3 Sept. 2010)
    • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B0040QDYEY
    • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
    • X-Ray:
    • Word Wise: Not Enabled
    • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
    • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
    • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #18,949 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
    •  Would you like to give feedback on images?

    More About the Authors

    Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

    What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars Very good 8 July 2010
    By Wilz VINE VOICE
    Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
    Just finished this. Gripping is the word. The setting in pre war Russia is fascinating and adds to the general story line. I'm very critical of so called "Crime" books and often find them poorly written or full of irrelevant side stories.
    Not the case here. The author manages to keep to the main story line with nice insights of the Stalin years that kept me engrossed to the end.
    The copy I've read is the uncut version. Lets hope that the publishers don't cut anything when it's finally published.
    Very good - well worth a read.
    Comment | 
    Was this review helpful to you?
    9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars very assured debut 7 May 2012
    By Rob Kitchin TOP 1000 REVIEWER
    I thoroughly enjoyed The Holy Thief, which is a very assured debut novel. It skillfully weaves together a police procedural with the understated elements of a spy thriller a la Le Carre. The characterization is well developed and Korolev is sympathetically portrayed with an interesting back story and enough depth to sustain a series. Where the book excels is in the contextual framing of politics and social relations of Stalin's Russia - the cliques and factions, the collectivization, the role of the state, the division of power and resources, the social conditions and the everyday drudge of making ends meet - and in the strong sense of place and claustrophobic atmosphere. The plot is carefully constructed and well paced, with sufficient twists and turns and tension points.
    Comment | 
    Was this review helpful to you?
    35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
    By David J. Kelly VINE VOICE
    Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
    A mysterious and gruesome murder in a public place is investigated by a divorced detective from the Militia and it involves a rich American businessman in dealings with the NKVD (later the KGB) to sell off Russian treasures. Could we be talking about Gorky Park? No this is the Holy Thief by William Ryan and despite these apparent similarity of plot lines it is an original novel. Set just as the terror of Stalin's purges is starting this shows a more austere, optimistic Soviet era when the 1917 revolution is still a living memory. The main character Captain Korolev is an old Imperial Russian and Red Army soldier who is now a detective in the People's Militia in Moscow. He is assigned the investigation of a dead young woman found in a old church, she has been tortured and killed.

    His investigation is of interest to the NKVD and Korolev has to tread with care, always thinking about the political side and the potentially fatal consequences of any mistake he makes, Then more bodies start turning up and the book takes us into the subcultures of early Soviet Moscow - thieves, writers, Spartak Moscow football club and Komsomol Activists all connected by the murders. As another reviewer said some idea of Soviet history is probably essential to follow the plot and real historical characters turn up. The hardship and austerity of 1930s Russia is evoked, overlain with the political terrors of the Stalinist purges.

    This book introduces a new fictional detective in Korolev who has a different enough milieau and an unusual back story to make this the precursor to a good series of books. I enjoyed it enough to kepp an eye out for any sequels.
    Comment | 
    Was this review helpful to you?
    32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
    Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
    It's the start of Stalin's Great Terror, and Moscow is caught in a web of fear as citizens inform on their neighbours for not following Party ideals. When a young woman in tortured to death, her body left on the altar of a church, Captain Alexei Dimitrevich Korolev is ordered to hunt down her killer. But the further he delves into the troubling case, the more the evidence points to someone within the NKVD - the most feared organisation in Russia.

    I don't know a lot about Russian history, and I found this novel to be very atmospheric and interesting, informative without being too academic. The sense that at any time an individual could be accused of being an enemy to the people and sent to prison is palpable. Korolev is a good Communist citizen, but not a Party member, and his struggle to reconcile his beliefs with the new national ideals is well portrayed. He was formerly a religious man, before religion became a disease and churches were assigned new purposes.

    The killings are brutal, but not described in bloody detail, and they become part of the background as the story takes on a political edge. This is a slow burn novel, rather than a page turner, but there are twists within the plot. I sometimes found it hard to keep track of some of the characters, and got names a bit confused, but that's only a minor issue. Korolev is a great character, and I'd like to read more books with him as the central character.
    Comment | 
    Was this review helpful to you?
    5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric mystery. 25 Feb. 2012
    By Braz
    The Holy Thief is set in Moscow in 1936, at the start of Stalin's deconstruction of the city. Korolev, the star detective in the Moscow Militia's Criminal Investigation Division, is sent to investigate the unusual and brutal murder of a woman whose body is found in a desecrated church.

    And, of course, this is a far from simple case, especially as it is carried out in the chilly shadow of the NKVD's Colonel Gregorin, who believes that the case may well have political implications.

    Korolev is a good man trying his best to complete his investigation whilst dealing with corruption, paranoia and the tangible fear of the times. A world that Ryan evokes very well indeed.

    The rich atmosphere of The Holy Thief is, in fact, one of its strong points and the book's historical details all help move the story forward rather than bogging it down, as is common in some historical crime novels.

    The Holy Thief, Ryan's debut novel, is a deftly paced and constantly involving mystery with an interesting cast of characters and an immensely likable hero. It is a cracking good story, very well told and it confidently kicks off a deservedly successful series.
    Comment | 
    Was this review helpful to you?
    Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
    Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    4.0 out of 5 stars It’ll keep you riveted right to the very end.
    Every now and then I read something completely on spec that is very much outside my comfort zone. It does you good to vary your reading and experiences, of course. Read more
    Published 4 days ago by SJATurney
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    Worth a read
    Published 6 days ago by Emily
    4.0 out of 5 stars USSR between the 2 world wars
    I liked this book. It gives a view of the USSR in between the wars and the people's hopes for the future. It could have been brutal, but wasn't and I found it readable.
    Published 6 days ago by Blyth
    4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent historical fiction.
    A thoroughly enjoyable novel about a period about which I know so little.
    I wish I had read this before visiting the lovely Russian People a few years back. Read more
    Published 5 months ago by Bruce Tucker
    4.0 out of 5 stars Vivid realism
    A very good story making me want to know more about Russia and stalin
    Why did the author use imperial measurements for heights ?
    Published 5 months ago by K R Johnson
    5.0 out of 5 stars 1930s Moscow brought vividly to life
    William Ryan paints a convincing portrait of 1930s Moscow under Stalin's terror whilst following a fast moving story of Captain Korolov's investigation into a brutal criminal... Read more
    Published 7 months ago by Mr. Andrew H. Fell-gordon
    5.0 out of 5 stars Cant recommend him highly enough
    Read all Mr Ryans books so far. Cant recommend him highly enough
    Published 8 months ago by she who must be obeyed
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    The recipient of this book loved it, can't speak for myself.
    Published 8 months ago by Jon
    5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful writing, gripping story and brilliant evocative setting
    Wonderful writing , gripping story and brilliant evocative setting.
    Published 8 months ago by Fenella J. Miller
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    Published 9 months ago by D. A. Wynne
    Search Customer Reviews

    Customer Discussions

    This product's forum
    Discussion Replies Latest Post
    No discussions yet

    Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
    Start a new discussion
    First post:
    Prompts for sign-in

    Search Customer Discussions
    Search all Amazon discussions

    Look for similar items by category