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The Twelfth Department: Korolev Mysteries Book 3 (The Korolev Series) Hardcover – 23 May 2013


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The Twelfth Department: Korolev Mysteries Book 3 (The Korolev Series) + The Bloody Meadow (The Korolev Series) + The Holy Thief (The Korolev Series)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Mantle (23 May 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0230742750
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230742758
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.2 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 25,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

‘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

From the Back Cover

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

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on 11 May 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Korolev is in desperate trouble, his son is missing, his ex-wife is being `investigated' and one of the leading Soviet scientists has a bullet in his skull.

Korolev, the hard-working and secret Orthodox Christian, finds himself enmeshed in an investigation which has two separate KGB departments trying to out-manoeuvre each other. Korolev who tries to avoid politics whenever possible is caught in the middle...so if his only child.

I have been a huge fan of the Soviet Militia man since his first literary outing. William Ryan, the author, goes from strength to strength. One can feel the oppressive atmosphere of pre-war Soviet Russia, where people disappear and apartments have sealed tape over the door. Korolev has to make his Christian genuflections in a pocket rather than openly.

Added to the political plotting are the truly hideous experiments being undertaken by Soviet scientists, all in the name of progress? What is about totalitarian societies which abandon medical ethics so rapidly?

This book was read in two nights, I could not put it down. The central character stands out as a man who is more concerned with justice and his family than by protecting his person from the dark forces that push forward Soviet progress. The same cannot be said for others in Korolev's Militia department.

What struck me the most is the acceptance that the state could make people disappear, arrest and charge them with due process of law, that everyone is an informer and the only place to speak the truth is in your own head. Family, friends and colleagues cannot be trusted. Informing brings tangible rewards to those who name names. Ironically the most honest character was the criminal king of the Moscow underworld.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 5 May 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
William Ryan returns with the third in his series of Detective Korolev stories.
Based in the heavily oppressive world of 1930'2 Russia Ryan soon re-introduces his audience to the suffocating atmosphere that Stalin's regime imposed on it's subjects.
Korolev must step & speak carefully as he investigates the shooting of a hated professor and soon after the brutal stabbing of the professors rival at work.

The question is though what was that work? Torture & mind control seem to be the research both victims were involved in but Korolev is being watched very closely by a vengeful Orwellian government and must juggle two rival officials both grasping promotion and glory while both using the hapless detective as their means of moving up the ladder.

As he struggles to keep everyone happy, evidence is hidden, doors closed & threats are constantly made. All of which make his job almost impossible but the final straw is the disappearance of his son. Has he run away with a gang of street boys, are they involved somehow or has he been taken as a bargaining chip by the state?

The atmosphere becomes almost unbearable as the story progresses and the unfolding truths are grim and sad.

Ryan writes of a believable and eye opening Russia that saw millions 'disappear' and those left descend into constant fear and petty treachery.
Korolev remains a likeable and human face amongst the crowd and his companions and neighbours look to him to shed some light amongst the inhuman darkness.

This is not without it's flaws though. The pace is slow to the point of almost stopping. There are long passages where little happens and we are left waiting for the story to wake up and lumber on once more.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Denise4891 TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 14 May 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I enjoyed the first two instalments of William Ryan's series about Moscow Militia detective Alexei Korolev (the first more so than the second), so I was keen to get my hands on the third. After moving away from Moscow for the second book The Bloody Meadow (one of the reasons I wasn't so keen on it), Korolev is back at the heart of the Soviet capital for his next case.

At the beginning of the book Korolev is looking forward to a long holiday from work and spending time with his son Yuri, who usually lives with Korolev's ex-wife Zhenya. However, things don't go to plan and Korolev is soon called back to investigate the death of a scientist who worked at a mysterious institute where a sinister method of mind-control and brain-washing of counter-revolutionaries is being developed. One murder quickly leads to another and soon Korolev is embroiled in a web of corruption and intrigue which puts both his and his son's lives in danger.

What I enjoyed most about the first book in the series, The Holy Thief, was the brooding atmosphere and sense of menace which helped to convey the sense of terror under which ordinary Russian citizens were living, terrified of giving themselves away as doubters or, worse still, Christians (something which Korolev struggles to keep hidden about himself). I didn't get that so much with this instalment; the focus is more on political corruption, sinister Stalinist methods of torture and interrogation and (even more) secret government departments - still fascinating stuff though and a nice break from all the Scandi-crime I've been reading lately.

Whilst this book can be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone novel, you will get the most out of it by reading books 1 and 2 first. The characters are starting to feel like old friends now and the relationships between them are developing nicely. I'm looking forward to the next one.
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