‘Ryan's tense, tightly plotted whodunnits feel gloriously plausible, a function of the intimate link he forges between his readers and his characters, never mind that those characters are living through extraordinary times’ Guardian
‘Set in Moscow in the 1930s, The Twelfth Department is the third outing for William Ryan’s increasingly impressive Captain Korolev series . . . There’s an Orwellian influence to the manipulation of language and meaning in The Twelfth Department, while Korolev’s quest to uncover the “facts” of his investigation ensures that he soon resembles a pawn kicked around the board by warring superiors. The geographical setting and political backdrop are compelling enough, but Korolev is a fascinating character in his own right, an army veteran of “the German War” who acknowledges the poisonous nature of the regime he serves even as he clings to the hope that its propaganda might some day chime with reality’ Irish Times
‘For some time the talented Ryan has been among the very best crime novelists working in a period setting and if your taste is for similar fare by Martin Cruz Smith or Philip Kerr in which an honest sleuth tries to do his best in a corrupt foreign regime you should not hesitate. The dogged Korolev is a police investigator and works in the dark years of Stalin's Great Terror. The dictator does not like him but is aware that the detective's past in the tsarist regime was distinguished by his immense skills and calls upon Korolev to solve a variety of problems: tasks which tax the conscience of this diligent Russian copper, always forced to walk a tightrope between duty and simple survival . . . The first two outings for Ryan's sleuth, The Holy Thief and The Bloody Meadow, met with almost universal acclaim and were shortlisted for a variety of prizes. It will be absolutely no surprise if this gleans similar praise. Once again the balance of pungent period detail and increasingly tense plotting are handled with total authority and Korolev remains one of the most persuasively conflicted characters in crime fiction’ Daily Express
'Ryan’s latest has a fine set of characters, puzzling murders, interesting police work, and a strong sense of
the terror that pervaded Stalin’s Russia. But it is his eye for period detail that makes this one special' Booklist starred review
'The shooting murder of Boris Azarov, a high-level Russian scientist conducting secret psychological research, propels Ryan’s excellent third pre-WWII thriller featuring Alexei Korolev, a Moscow CID detective . . . While the police work will keep readers engaged, the series’ chief strength comes from Ryan’s skillful evocation of everyday life under Stalin' Publishers Weekly starred review
‘This is the third William Ryan novel to feature Moscow detective Alexei Korolev during Stalin's reign of terror, and it's as richly satisfying as its two predecessors . . . As in the earlier books, Korolev is an engagingly flawed hero . . . Ryan's achievement is to make his characters and their milieu so tangibly immediate that you feel you're actually in their presence. Obviously his historical research has been considerable, but he's managed the rare feat of subsuming it into his narrative in such a way that it's never obtrusive – you really do have the sensation of being on that particular street or in that particular apartment block or municipal building alongside Korolev, his tenacious sidekick Slivka or any of the other vividly realised characters who inhabit the book. The Holy Thief
, published in 2010, was an immensely assured introduction to this police detective and his perilous Moscow beat; The Bloody Meadow
(2011) confirmed that first book's promise; and The Twelfth Department
is even more engrossing, especially for those readers who've come to regard Korolev as a trusted friend and sceptical moral guardian in an otherwise unsettling world’ Irish Independent
'Ryan is one of the best modern writers in the emerging Soviet/Russian mystery genre . . . There is a believable sense of the era and the characters are true to what we know of people living through the horrors of Stalin’s regime' Russian Life
'I haven’t read the previous two novels in this series, but The Twelfth Department
is so good that in fact, while not hindering the reader’s enjoyment, it further succeeds in whetting the reader’s appetite for the previous novels. The fetid and suffocating atmosphere created by Ryan, where friends, colleagues and even family cannot be trusted, is brilliantly realised and becomes progressively worse as the narrative unfolds and Korolev’s choices narrow. The characterisation is simply excellent. Korolev is a conflicted and complex character whose personal story intertwines with the twisted and turning investigative narrative while the other characters, such as the Moscow mob boss, Count Kolya, are all energised and smoothly drawn. As a crime story this is excellent, but as a historical crime novel, it is outstanding' Historical Novel Society
'This book is amazing! Even better than THE BLOODY MEADOW, the previous book by this author, it keeps you hanging on by drip feeding you morsels of information and cranking up the tension to fever pitch as it does so . . .
A truly magnificent book: addictive, interesting, well-written and full of interesting characters. Captain Korolev is helping Ryan establish himself as a first rate author of historical crime fiction. I am definitely a fan of this series and already desperate to read the next one! Extremely highly recommended' Eurocrime
Shortlisted for the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger for Best Historical Crime Novel of the Year and the Ireland AM Crime Fiction Book of the Year
Moscow, 1937. Captain Korolev, a police investigator, is enjoying a long overdue visit from his young son Yuri when an eminent scientist is shot dead within sight of the Kremlin and Korolev is ordered to find the killer.
The victim, it seems, was engaged in research of great interest to those at the very top ranks of Soviet power. When another scientist is brutally murdered, and evidence of the professors' dark experiments is hastily removed, Korolev begins to realize that, along with having a difficult case to solve, he's caught in a dangerous battle between two warring factions of the NKVD - the Russian secret police. And then his son Yuri goes missing . . .
'For some time the talented Ryan has been among the very best crime novelists working in a period setting and if your taste is for similar fare by Martin Cruz Smith or Philip Kerr in which an honest sleuth tries to do his best in a corrupt foreign regime you should not hesitate' Daily Express
'Ryan's tense, tightly plotted whodunnits feel gloriously plausible' Guardian
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