Monday, October 24, 2016

CRIME FICTION SET IN RUSSIA

I am a voracious crime fiction reader and have read several books, thanks to the Toronto Public Library.
Since the last 3-4 years, I started looking out for crime fiction from various countries; Learning about a country and it's culture is most enjoyable if I do it be absorbing  it from a crime fiction book set in that country! Also I don't ever forget when my learning is so full of thrills and excitement.
I have made lists of books from various countries in my blog. This article has a list of crime fiction books set in Russia which I have read and enjoyed.

 Stuart Kaminsky : He is one of my favorite authors. The 16 books below are by him
I adore the characters in this series especially Rostnikov.  I admire the fact that the inspector is so honest, though he's living such a difficult life and surrounded by corruption. He is living just above poverty level, yet has neither anger nor envy about his lot. I always think of India and Indian police, who are such a contrast to him. In India, the people I have come across are ashamed of shabbiness and poverty; yet they are not ashamed of corruption!A person who is earning little through honest hard work and cannot afford smart clothes in India feels ashamed of his shabby clothes; the guy who takes hefty bribes and can afford a lavish lifestyle is not ashamed of his corruption but proud of 'looking great'! This drives me insane with anger but all I can do is swallow my anger and shut up!
Rostnikov's lack of anger and his calmness in the face of frustrating circumstances; his absolute disinterest in accolades, his dealings with his boss, the space he gives the people working under him and the fact that he took in the two little girls and their grandmother into his home are things, despite his limited means are his many admirable features. I know he's a fictional character  but I also have had the privilage of knowing people like him! 
I had placed 3 fictional characters on thrones in the past but now I am considering adding him to the throne!( The 3 are Atticus Finch, James Green (Sudden series of westerns) and Modesty Blaise) 

Inspector Rostnikov series

  1. Rostnikov's Corpse (1981)
    (also published as Death of a Dissident)
  2. Black Knight in Red Square (1983)
  3. Red Chameleon (1985)
  4. A Fine Red Rain (1987)
  5. A Cold Red Sunrise (1988)
  6. The Man Who Walked Like a Bear (1990)
  7. Rostnikov's Vacation (1991)
  8. Death of a Russian Priest (1992)
  9. Hard Currency (1995)
  10. Blood and Rubles (1996)
  11. Tarnished Icons (1997)
  12. The Dog Who Bit a Policeman (1998)
  13. Fall of a Cosmonaut (2000)
  14. Murder on the Trans-Siberian Express (2001)
  15. People Who Walk in Darkness (2008)
  16. A Whisper to the Living (2010)   
I have all of these books (the Rostnikov series) and bought most of them  on Amazon. com. I was sad to see that some books were stamped with a seal stating,'discarded from library due to poor circulation'. I was appalled that people did not read this wonderful series and the libraries were discarding them! I reread these books once in a while as they are so good!

Martin Cruz Smith is another favorite of mine. However his first book is the best and the last two are not really so great. They seem a bit shallow but I read them anyway as I am a fan. I think he developed a neurological problem while writing the last book and I really admire him for finishing the book in spite of his problems!

Arkady Renko series

  • Gorky Park
  • Polar Star
  • Red Square
  • Havana Bay
  • Wolves eat Dogs
  • Stalin's Ghost
  • Three Stations
  • Tatiana
Tom Rob Smith is another favorite and he has written three books set in Russia which is a trilogy.
The books are 
Child 44
The secret speech
Agent 6

I finished reading "Agent 6", the  last book  of the triology authored by Tom Rob Smith today. It was fast paced and I read it till one am i.e. until I finished it. This is  the most exciting book I read recently and I had waited for this book (on a waitlist  at Toronto Public Library) for almost 6 months!

I recommend this trilogy to anyone interested in  fast paced, well written set of three books, set in Stalin Russia, communist Russia in later times and in Soviet occupied  Afghanistan.

Reading this book, I started thinking about China, the last of the communist countries left in the world today. I wonder, when China's communist party will be toppled...if it is ever going to be toppled at all.

 Alex Dryden has written these books set in Russia or related to Russia
Red to Black
Moscow Sting
The blind spy

 Michael Hetzer is another author whose book  The Forbidden Zone  I read.
Set in the USSR, 1983. It is set mostly in Siberia and is about the search for his twin brother by a Russian scientist, who is loved and aided by an American woman and pursued by the ruthless Russian KGB. The story ranges from time of the World War to the times of the cold war between the USSR & USA.
Hope this author writes more books set in Russia. His readers will love them.

I hope there are more such books, set in Siberia. Vicarious chills are better than actual chills dont you think !

The last red August by Alexi Malashenko

This book was okay. It could have been much more gripping. The style of writing is not to my liking but I did finish it...I would not have finished if it was really bad.

Petrovka 38 by Julian Semyonov :Bought this book at Value village in Feb 2016 for 4.00$. It's available in TPL but not for issue. The blurb on the cover says  'the first thriller out of Russia', meaning that no other thrillers were written before this...I wonder if this is really true. I am enjoying it but not as much as the Kaminsky series. This author has written other books too but they are not available in the TPL.
Another crime fiction, a collection of stories edited by Otto Penzler is 'The greatest Russian stories of crime and suspense' published in 2010 but has stories ranging form those written in 1872. Some of the stories in this book are by Leo Tolstoy, Gogol, Maxim Gorky and Chekov.
................
Below are books from Russia which I have NOT read
Elleston Trevor AKA Adam Hall's books


  • The Berlin Memorandum AKA The Quiller memorandum(1965)
  • The 9th Directive (1966)
  • The Striker Portfolio (1968)
  • The Warsaw Document (1971)
  • The Tango Briefing (1973)
  • The Mandarin Cypher (1975)
  • The Kobra Manifesto (1976)
  • The Sinkiang Executive (1978)
  • The Scorpion Signal (1979)
  • The Peking Target (1981)
  • Quiller/Northlight (1985)
  • Quiller's Run (1988)
  • Quiller KGB (1989)
  • Quiller Barracuda (1990)
  • Quiller Bamboo (1991)
  • Quiller Solitaire (1992)
  • Quiller Meridian (1993)
  • Quiller Salamander (1994)
  • Quiller Balalaika (1996)


  • All of the above books may not be based in Russia.
    .................

      Julian Semyonov's Tass Is Authorized to Announce (Avon, N.Y., 1988)  
    Alexander Tarasov-Rodionov's Chocolate, ( London, 1933).
    Mikhail. Chernyonok's, Losing Bet, (Dial Press,N.Y., 1984)
    V.V. Lipatov's set of short stories entitled, A Village Detective (Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1970).
     Nikolai Aleksandrov's Two Leaps Across a Chasm: A Russian Mystery (S & S Trade, 1992)
      Alexei. Malashenko's  The Last Red August (Scribner's Sons, N.Y., 1993) (Anthony Alcott translator)
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    Crime fiction from totalitarian countries-fictional countries and real:
    I came across a highly rated set of books by Olen Steinhauer which are set in a 'east European' country; I believe that it means a communist or totalitarian country. That's why I am putting it in this list/article I am planning to read these books as they are highly praised in several reviews. The books are:
    The bridge of sighs 2003
    The confession 2004
    36  Yalta boulevard 2005
    Liberation Movements 2006
    Victory Square 2007

    Other books by Olen Steinhauer but not necessarily of communist countries include The tourist 2009
    The nearest exit 2010
    An American spy 2012
    The Cairo affair 2014
    All the old knives 2015
    ..........
    Per Wahoo's Murder on the 31st floor is another crime fiction in totalitarian country


    1 comment:

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