I tend to like books that transport you to unfamiliar places through the eyes of characters poised at familiar crossroads, in search of their identity, their roots and their possibilities. Fasman's new novel does just that. The opening chapter set in a Russian prison draws you in immediately with its tension and foreboding tone while the shift to Rockville, Maryland introduces you to Jim Vilatzer, a 32 -year old at odds with himself and his life. The plot moves swiftly and engages you throughout with unexpected twists and turns that make you want to know with increasing urgency how these worlds connect. But what I loved most of all in this book and in Fasman's last, The Geographer's Library, (and for that matter, what will keep me looking forward to whatever he writes next), is the writing itself. This is an author with a gift for immersing you in the locales he writes about, for making you feel as if you are in Moscow traveling alongside Jim, experiencing the city's "unpredictability and toughness" and at the same time, discovering its "unexpected, genuine moments of kindness."