When Tatiana Petrovna falls from her balcony in Moscow the prosecutor rules it a suicide. Even though she is an investigative reporter with many enemies no one questions the ruling. No one except Arkady Renko. He feels things just aren’t right, and when her body is misplaced he is sure something is wrong. Recovering from broken ribs and a punctured lung, supposedly on light duty, he requests permission to investigate the missing body. (He can’t investigate the death since the ruling has already been made.) Discovering a cache of audio tapes in her apartment containing notes for her stories, he listens and becomes captivated by her voice and also becomes quite sure she didn’t commit suicide. Things become tangled and confused with the trail leading to the port city of Kaliningrad where Tatiana had found the notebook of a business translator; a notebook that seems to hold the key to everything. But the notebook is in a personal code known only to the translator, and the translator’s body washed up on the shore in Kaliningrad.
The new Russia is still grim and corrupt, and Arkady Renko is still cynical and obstinate, trying against all odds to do his job as a police investigator. I love the feel of the book. It’s gritty and dark. The characters seem conflicted, resigned to their fate yet occasionally hoping for something better. I have long been acquainted with Renko, and though it is nice to keep up with him through the years, it isn’t necessary to have read the previous books. There is enough background information to keep a new reader up to date.
eGalley review Publication date 11.12.13